New Legislation Proposes Free Tuition for Volunteer Firefighters at New York State Colleges

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara has introduced new legislation aimed at bolstering volunteer firefighter recruitment across New York State. The proposed bill seeks to incentivize participation in volunteer fire departments by offering tuition-free education at select public institutions.

The primary objective of this legislation is to address the decline in volunteer firefighter enrollment, which has become a pressing issue in communities statewide. By providing tuition-free education opportunities at State University of New York (SUNY), City University of New York (CUNY), and community colleges, individuals who have served as volunteer firefighters for a minimum of five years will have access to affordable higher education options.

Key provisions of the bill include:

  • Amendment of education law sections to empower SUNY and CUNY trustees to establish tuition-free education programs for eligible volunteer firefighters.
  • Establishment of similar programs at community colleges across the state.
  • Effective date set for the ninetieth day after becoming law.
"The decline in volunteer firefighter participation poses a significant threat to public safety in our communities," said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. "This legislation aims to reverse that trend by providing tangible incentives for individuals who selflessly serve their communities as volunteer firefighters. By offering access to tuition-free education, we hope to attract and retain more individuals in this vital role."