Buffalo, NY (WBEN) The clock is ticking for Governor Cuomo to sign a bill that would provide employment protection for volunteer firefighters who are deployed in the event of disaster.
Cuomo has until midnight to sign the bill before it dies. Erie County Commissioner of Emergency Services Dan Neaverth, Jr. says the bill is to protect volunteer firefighters in the case of long term employment. "Deployments to hurricanes and tropical storms we've recently had where the state makes a mutual aid request for fire companies to spend a couple of days," he explains. "This would afford them protection as they are excused while they protect other communities around New York State."
Neaverth says the law would help volunteer fire companies in two ways: recruitment and retention: "Maybe some people will be interested in helping out in major disasters, and also some people considering a local agency, but not knowing whether they will be able to make the time commitment," says Neaverth. "I think it's imperative we do whatever we can do to help the volunteer firefighter whenever it's realistic to make sure he's protected."
But Neaverth says there needs to be a system of checks and balances. "There has to be some sort of sign-off by the fire department the volunteer did respond to the call, and companies do a good job in recording that," notes Neaverth.
The bill was drafted by State Senator Mark Grisanti.