Governor Kathy Hochul signed the 2023 New York State Budget that will, for the first time allow fire departments to recover the costs associated with providing emergency medical services (EMS) ambulance transportation. Thanks to the leadership of sponsors Senator John E. Brooks and Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, the EMS Cost Recovery Act will help fire department-based EMS providers throughout the State continue to provide life-saving medical services to New Yorkers. The inclusion of the language in the state budget was also made possible by the support of the leadership of both the Senate and the Assembly. The budget was signed by the Governor on April 9, 2022.

The Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) has worked as part of a coalition of fire service organizations, including the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs and the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York, for more than 25 years to advance this legislation. Adoption of this measure brings New York State in line with 49 other states which allow this cost recovery to take place and provides parity for volunteer fire departments with every other ambulance provider in the state.

“We thank Senator Brooks, Assemblyman Jones, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, for their hard work in ensuring this important bill was included in the New York State budget. Our volunteer fire department EMS providers spend a substantial amount of time training for and responding to medical emergencies, and fire departments upgrade their equipment continuously to provide the highest level of protection to New Yorkers,” said FASNY President John P. Farrell, Jr. “Allowing local fire departments to recover the costs of providing vital EMS services will help offset the costs of EMS services and allow volunteer departments to continue providing ambulance services in their communities.”

By allowing municipalities and volunteer fire companies the option to recover costs for rendering EMS services, the legislation will provide relief to volunteer fire department budgets that have been strained by increasing EMS call volumes, especially in the face of rising costs for supplies, state-mandated training, fuel, personnel, and PPE. The bill will facilitate the recovery of a projected $100 million in EMS costs by local fire departments and represents a bipartisan effort to provide equity among New York State’s EMS providers, which include private EMS companies, volunteer ambulance corps (VACs), and fire departments.

“Countless New Yorkers rely on fire departments for ambulance services,” said Robert R. Kloepfer Jr., President of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs. “This legislation will help ease the financial burden on fire departments and help increase training, staffing, and equipment. This legislation will help the different New York ambulance providers and fire departments to recover the costs of EMS calls and will help ensure that all New Yorkers receive a prompt response if they dial 911.”

“The EMS affordability crisis facing New York’s fire departments has a very simple solution,” said Kenneth Preston, President of the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York. “The passage of this legislation permits New York fire departments to benefit from patients’ existing healthcare plans, as other ambulance providers already do, and help keep fire departments open and operational. This solution will benefit all New Yorkers.”