Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I,Ref-Schoharie) fully supports the Assembly Minority effort to provide relief to volunteer firefighter and EMS personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would allocate $90 million generated from state wireless surcharge fees that would otherwise be put into the General Fund and set it aside for a special New York State Volunteer Fire Protection Reimbursement Account. This fund would be used to provide EMS and volunteer firefighter services with funding to make up for budget shortfalls caused by either municipal budget cuts or canceled fundraising events, as well as reimburse volunteers for purchases of needed PPE such as face masks.
Our EMS and volunteer firefighters havent stopped doing all they can to protect us even in the face of a global crisis, Tague said. We owe it to these heroes to make sure they have everything they need to do their jobs as safely as possible. As a former volunteer firefighter, I know budgets are always tight, and given the reliance most departments have on donations to get the money they need, the state really must step in and help our first responders during this pandemic when so many crucial fundraising events have been canceled. With all the dangers these heroes face every day, the least we can do is assure they have proper PPE and well-maintained facilities to keep them protected from the virus and ready to be there when we need them most.