New Bill to Increase Incentives for Volunteers

ALBANY – State Senator Jen Metzger’s bill to lift the maximum cap for Length of Service Awards Programs (LOSAP) contributions was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo recently, almost doubling the current annual amount from $700 to $1,200 for volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance workers.

Enacted in 1988, Section 218 of the General Municipal Law outlines the monetary reward that volunteers receive at retirement age. Since that time, the maximum annual award allowed has increased only once, in 2004, from $480 per year to the current cap of $700 per year. Carried in the Assembly by Fred W. Thiele (AD-1), the amendment to the law goes into effect immediately.

“Firefighters and EMS volunteers are the first line of defense in emergencies in our communities, and are vital to the protection of public safety and well-being,” said Senator Metzger. “By increasing the maximum allowable award, we recognize the work of these dedicated and brave volunteers while also providing a stronger incentive for recruitment of new volunteers.”

Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) President Steven E. Klein said, “New York’s brave volunteers sacrifice their time and face great risk in service of their communities. They do this gladly and proudly, without pay. Length of Service Awards Programs directly reflect New York’s appreciation to our volunteers for their longevity of service. Measures like these are crucial in recruiting and retaining more volunteer firefighters. Updating this program is long overdue to keep pace with inflation and cost of living adjustments. FASNY is grateful to State Senator Jennifer Metzger and Assemblyman Fred Thiele for their leadership on this issue, and to the entire Legislature for passing this bill. We applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing this bill into law.”

While FASNY has taken important steps to focus on recruitment and retention initiatives — adding approximately 20,000 new members from 2011 to 2014 — more volunteer firefighters are needed to ensure that New Yorkers are adequately protected.

Mayor of New Paltz Tim Rogers said, “The Town and Village of New Paltz and SUNY New Paltz share one fire department and we are indebted to this incredibly busy all-volunteer organization. This increase to the maximum annual contribution for service awards, that is paid for locally, sends a message of gratitude for the astounding number of hours our volunteers contribute. We thank Senator Metzger and Governor Cuomo for their continued support.”

New Paltz Village Trustee and Volunteer Firefighter, William Wheeler-Murray said, “On behalf of the Village of New Paltz and volunteer firefighters around the state, I’d like to thank Senator Metzger for moving this bill forward and her efforts that resulted in getting the Governor to realize the value of this increase. With a declining number of volunteer firefighters, I’m optimistic that this bill will not only thank those who have served, but will also hopefully help recruitment efforts.”

Jen Metzger represents the 42nd Senate District, which includes all of Sullivan County and parts of Delaware, Orange, and Ulster Counties. Senator Metzger serves as Chair of the Agriculture Committee and sits on the Environmental Conservation, Education, Health, Energy and Telecommunications, Local Government, Women’s Issues, Domestic Animal Welfare, and Legislative Commission on Rural Resources Committees.

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