The Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) commissioned Resolution Economics (ResEcon), a national firm of economists and policy analysts, to measure the economic value that volunteer firefighters provide to New York residents.

In completing this assignment, ResEcon analyzed both paid and volunteer fire departments throughout the state, excluding New York City. We employed economic models to measure firefighting requirements in each locality, using not only population but also geography, real property, service areas, and local experience. This multi-factor approach improves the accuracy of the calculations in a complex state like New York to account for its varied demographics and geography.

Volunteer firefighters reduce municipal government expenses by eliminating the need to pay for career firefighter wages, benefits and related costs. Volunteer organizations engage in extensive fundraising, which avoids tax levies for purchasing, maintaining, and operating firefighting equipment. Municipalities do not need to spend funds on fire stations with living quarters or other structures, which saves them a full range of annual operating expenses such as administration and utility costs.

  • An additional 31,058 career firefighters would be necessary to go to an all-paid fire service;
  • Currently, volunteer firefighters save New York taxpayers $3.8 billion in salaries and benefits alone;
  • The annual cost of an all-career fire service (salaries, benefits, operating costs and debt service) would be $4.7 billion;
  • In addition, there would be a one-time cost of $8.2 billion to acquire existing stations/structures, vehicles and equipment;
  • Approximately 1,500 fire stations would have to be built new or reconstructed;
  • Property taxes would rise an average 28.4% statewide.