Assemblyman Jake Ashby (R,C,I,Ref-Castleton) has signed a letter with his Assembly Minority colleagues asking the president and the New York State congressional delegation to consider including financial aid for firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel in the next round of federal relief. Departments and individuals are dealing with the extraordinary costs in equipping themselves with personal protective equipment (PPE) and other protective gear needed to fight COVID-19. The legislators are asking for federal reimbursement for this important gear and for other financial aid for volunteer personnel who have experienced loss of wages due to quarantine from COVID-19 exposure while in their firefighting and EMS roles.
Our volunteer firefighters and EMS staff are so vital to our communities and the fight against coronavirus. They, too, are feeling the crushing burdens related to the costs of fighting this war against this pandemic and we are asking the president and Congress to help, said Ashby. The excessive cost of PPE and the loss of wages due to COVID-19 exposure while carrying out their volunteer life-saving duties needs attention. If we are to recover after this pandemic, we need to look at all parts of our communities, including our volunteer emergency services. We are so thankful to them.
There are 900 volunteer fire districts in New York, manned by roughly 110,000 volunteer firefighters. Volunteer firefighters save taxpayers more than $3 billion each year. In addition to PPE reimbursement and wage loss relief, the Assembly Minority also propose recovery loans for these departments and EMS corps who are unable to engage in their usual fundraising efforts due to social distancing.