Russell Bill Extends Benefits to Volunteer Firefighters

June 23, 2010

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) announced passage of legislation she sponsored to extend a presumption relating to certain lung disabilities to volunteer firefighters in regard to retirement and social security benefits (A.8516-A). Volunteer firefighters, while on duty, are exposed to certain synthetic chemicals that increase their risk for certain lung disabilities.

“Volunteer firefighters are especially important to public safety in the North Country where many of our rural communities do not have paid firefighters,” Russell said. “These volunteers risk their lives every day to protect us; we should do our part to help them out when their selfless service results in this type of harm.”

According to Russell, these same benefits were extended to paid firefighters in 2005 but failed to include volunteer firefighters. “Our volunteers face the same health risks when fighting fires that our paid firefighters do,” said Russell. “It is only reasonable the benefits be consistent.”

Bob Crowe, a member of the EMS Fire Advisory Board for St. Lawrence County said: “I want to sincerely thank Addie on behalf of our volunteer fire service for looking out for the financial stability of families of affected firefighters.”

Todd LaSage, the Brownville Assistant Fire Chief said: “Assemblywoman Russell deserves congratulation for the passage of this bill that will assist our members with benefits if they are exposed to lung hazards. She understands that we need to take care of the volunteers that are looking out for us.”