News

Best of Luck to Jill Wiseman

July 22nd, 2021

Just when you think all is right with the world and things are falling into place you get derailed.  I don’t remember exactly when but a gracious lady was introduced to us by Mike Podolec fa commissioner from West Glenville Fire District.  Jill Wiseman was a commissioner, a firefighter and was willing to join the group and make contributions.  What a find I thought; was it to good to be true and yes it was.  While Jill was part of the group she spoke up, made valuable contributions and was obviously going to be a rising star.  Jill made the commitment to be an officer and was elected to the office of 2nd and subsequently 1st Vice President.  Recently Jill’s husband had landed a technology position in NYC and of course during the pandemic was able to work from home, something a lot of us have learned how to do.  Then Jill’s mom was alone out in Oklahoma (Oklahoma?), which is not over the river or through the woods, and her and her husband decided to move to OK to take care of Jill’s mom.  I admire the fact that they were able to escape from the land of high taxes and questionable politicians, but the Capital Area has lost a valuable contributor who I think had a great future and I’m sure is also a loss to West Glenville Fire District.  We wish Jill and her family all the best and it was a pleasure to have her in our lives while she was here.  We will miss her and all the contributions that she made to not only our organization but to all of the fire districts that belong to the Capital Area.  Safe travels and all the best in the future, we will miss you don’t forget your friends back here in New York.

CoVid Update, Take Precautions

July 22nd, 2021

Public Health reports steady increases in COVID cases in much of the State (https://www.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/e56ae5bf0064452fb7b6aa2933f79f8e).

To maintain operational readiness of our law enforcement, fire, and EMS services, it is essential that everyone be aware of current DOH recommendations for exposures and quarantines.  Here are the key points:

  1. Any person with COVID signs/symptoms should be tested for COVID, whether they are

fully vaccinated or not. See a local provider that can do a rapid COVID tests for people with symptoms. Other test sites: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-nearyou. If the COVID test is negative, the person can return to duty (and work) once their symptoms go away.

  1. People who test positive for COVID are quarantined by Public Health for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status. While COVID infection is extremely unlikely in fully vaccinated people, no vaccine is 100% effective. Vaccinated people who contract COVID experience milder illness and are less likely to infect others.
  2. Unvaccinated people exposed to COVID (defined as unmasked contact within 6 feet of a COVID positive person for 15+ minutes in any 24-hour period) are placed on 10-day quarantine by Public Health, unless they have recently recovered from COVID. Fully vaccinated people without COVID symptoms are not subject to quarantine following an exposure; they are advised to self-monitor for COVID signs/symptoms for 14 days.
  3. As cases continue to climb, vaccination becomes increasingly important for continued operations of emergency services. Exposures will happen. Vaccinated people are not subject to quarantine following an exposure, unless ill. Vaccines are readily available: https://www.vaccines.gov/search/.

DOH Guidance: Quarantine for Community Persons Exposed to CoVid 19

update-interim-guidance-for-community-exposure-quarantine_042221

 

 

2022 Tax Cap will be Two Percent (2%)

July 17th, 2021

Property tax levy growth will be capped at 2% for 2022 for local governments that operate on a calendar-based fiscal year, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today. This figure affects tax cap calculations for all counties, towns, and fire districts, as well as 44 cities and 13 villages.

“Allowable tax levy growth will be limited to 2% for a third time in four years for local governments with calendar fiscal years,” DiNapoli said. “As the economy recovers from the pandemic, local governments have seen some revenues rebound and have benefited from one-time federal financial assistance. At the same time, the risk of inflationary cost increases and the need for investments that will stimulate economic growth and fund essential services may lead to challenging budget decisions ahead.”

The tax cap, which first applied to local governments and school districts in 2012, limits annual tax levy increases to the lesser of the rate of inflation or 2% with certain exceptions, including a provision that allows municipalities to override the tax cap.

The 2% cap for the 2022 fiscal year is the third time since 2019 that municipalities with a calendar year fiscal year (Jan. 1 through Dec. 31) had their levy growth capped at that amount. In 2021, the allowable levy growth was 1.56%.

The Growth Factor for fire districts will be 1.0200%%

This is a Must Read Article About Silos – Applies to Fire Companies, Fire Districts and Other Organizations

July 14th, 2021

**Fire Service Organizational Silos: How To Emerge From The Depths And Foster Connection

Kristopher T. Blume

The organizational structure and rigors of the fire service make it susceptible to a critical stumbling block that is common within other industries. That stumbling block is organizational silos, or siloing.

Silos are organizational barriers that foster division, hamper functioning and limit overall ability. Organizational silos can limit creativity and kill organizational and individual morale. As much as siloing is a sign of overall organizational dysfunction, it is also an opportunity for organizational growth and transition.

SPOTTING SILOS

Silos are not always easy to spot; nonetheless, they can be discovered after peeling off the thin veneer of bravado and denial. Identifying the siloed organization is the first step. This requires candid, introspective conversions, and evaluations. An outside audit or assessment can reveal what those too close to the issue cannot see.

Most organizations do not set out to be siloed. And many in the executive ranks may tout the absence of silos in their organization. The truth, however, rests in demonstrable fact, not hot air and hyperbole.

In broad and general terms, siloed organizations are characterized by a lack of communication and cross-collaboration. The silo walls are created with us-vs.-them constructs. Siloed organizations often have teams or entire departments that work in isolation or bubbles, away from the rest of the organization. This narrow focus neglects outside stimulus, tunneling the siloed group into a survival mentality regarding their functional areas. The whole is subjugated by the parts. The insidious effects of silo construction are often not noticed in their incremental parts. Many times, the lack of awareness, energy or desire to remove silos expedites their depth. And once the groundwork of siloed organizations is laid, the rest happens with little effort.

PREDICTING SILOS

Gordon Graham asserts, “If it is predictable, it’s preventable.” Predicting silos means we need to pay attention to early indicators of their presence. Third-person pronouns – they, them, their, the department, etc. – can be isolationist terms. For example, “If only they would pull their weight, we (my team/silo) could get something done around here!” Sound familiar?

Variations of this statement have echoed from the station kitchen tables for as long as the fire service has been around. So, what’s the problem? Many conversions center around the officers at the station driving organizational tempo and culture. Before we dismiss comments like the one above, we need to understand where the silo is built.

When the internal dialogue among fire service membership turns into us vs. them, the inherent challenge of teams comes into focus and, without action, can become a significant problem. This disconnect can lead to tension, loss of productivity and, in the worst case, safety concerns.

Disenfranchised firefighters and officers are another concerning issue that arises in siloed organizations. When individuals are stripped of their formal or informal power and cannot speak up, the foundation is being laid for a significant problem. Employees and managers must feel as if they will be able to work together. When they are pitted against one another or just ignored, it shouldn’t be a surprise to then see an increase in turnover rates and organizational strife.

Another tell-tale sign of a siloed fire service organization is the duplication of tasks. This is the signature signal of miscommunication or the loss of communication. When people cannot decide who receives information or directives, or assign the job to multiple people, mass confusion occurs.

DISASSEMBLING SILOS

Disassembling silos is the key to stopping any further damage and challenges that may already exist within the fire department.

With remote work at an all-time high during the pandemic, more silos emerged and many existing silos deepened. The work disconnect was stronger than ever. To retain formality and a semblance of a schedule, many fire service officers at the administrative level allowed their employees to work on their own time when and where this is appropriate, with regular check-ins with their team throughout the day. Using various forms of communication gave members the chance to select one that works best for their situation and schedule. Some prefer to communicate in writing, while others might choose a video call. This helped promote connections and open lines of communication during a time that could naturally lead to increased siloing.

Another key step is to find ways to create empowered teams. General Stan McChrystal calls them “Teams of Teams.” For smaller fire service organizations, this might not be applicable, but for larger departments, it is essential to create teams. A large department will not have individual meetings and connections but rather team meetings. They have to communicate with one another as they work on projects together, highlighting the importance of staying on task and ensuring that everything is “on time, on target.” Creating chains of communication for these teams to talk with one another and other groups is essential.  Note: This is the decentralization of command. This isn’t the creation of more teams, but rather, empowering them.

No matter how it is done, it is essential to find ways for organizational members to come together in a collaborative environment. To stop the isolation of people within an organization through silos, senior leadership teams must explore and be open to new ways to connect and communicate with our membership. Without this, we will be unable to remain properly connected and informed. Whether through Zoom meetings or virtual chats, it is important for people to talk, share and stay on task – and support one another.

This also applies to finding ways to create organizational learning. In the fire service, we develop training and methods for people to share, learn and improve themselves and their emergency response skills. One of the most generic ways to promote connectedness rather than siloing is to encourage and incentivize the team atmosphere. Many fire service organizations don’t follow this approach, and it is shocking how many departments could be of better service to their communities and personnel if they chose to emphasize teamwork.

The integration of teams within an organization is accessible no matter the size of your department. Encouraging a team atmosphere is as easy as setting goals for the organization and company officers. If people feel they are all working toward something together, they feel more connected and purposeful in their obligations. If firefighters are feeling unsure about where they might be failing, they should feel encouraged and supported in their effort to perform a review at the company level and discover the leaks in their productivity and atmosphere.

STOP SILO RECURRENCE

Now that silos can be identified and dismantled, there are ways to retain the internal peace of the department. One of the best ways to ensure that silos do not return within your organization is through the practice of servant leadership.

Servant leadership is essential because it depends on the purpose of the team. Instead of focusing on the administration and quantitative data as the sole supplier of recognition, servant leadership looks at the people involved and seeks to improve individuals’ skill and make them more integral to the team. Teaching servant leadership is a pivotal way to retain employees and demonstrate the organization’s commitment to its mission, vision and values. With everyone on the same page and focused on the same goals, fire service organizations will find that they have more success than they can imagine in the future.

Preventing siloing is also essential due to the after-effects of the pandemic. Many administrative personnel for municipal fire departments want to remain at home, but fire service organizations need to ensure that people do not stagnate into silos and teams do not begin to fail in their communication abilities.

There are simple ways to improve these issues, including studying the optimal way to work from home. This would help their employees and create more unity with the company’s understanding of their employee experiences. Optimal scheduling and planning can be done by finding the best time and frequency of meetings, establishing freedom of schedule or at least blocks for people to work, and finding ways to incorporate offline updates. With the connectivity of the internet, programs and software are available at all times.

Such work-from-home approaches will differ for every organization, but it will be important that department leadership take the time to study the options to prevent silos. If they do not take the time to explore these issues and find ways to make the work-from-home schedule adequate, individuals will not be connected, might become disenfranchised, and then the siloing begins.

STAY CONNECTED

Siloed organizations can hinder the productivity and cohesiveness of the entire organization. When teams begin to shift focus from their primary purpose, and a battle among teams or managers and employees becomes the norm, collectively, as fire service professionals, we must find ways to stop the siloing.

The long-term losses from siloed organizations include failures on the fireground, frustrations at the individual and company officer level, and often lead to increased employee turnover rates. Working from home will not disappear, and it will likely even become more ingrained in society as an adaptive solution. Pandemic or not, fire service professionals will have to work harder than ever to prove their teams can remain connected and on task. Otherwise, we will continue to struggle with silos as an unwelcomed disruptive force in our departments.

Guidance for the Fire Service Unvaccinated!

July 14th, 2021

Mask update: while NYS lifted most COVID-19 restrictions, unvaccinated persons are still required to wear masks indoors including in fire and EMS stations. The attached summarizes CDC requirements currently in effect, upload this document HERE:

choosingsaferact__20210713145333 (1)

End of Legislative Session Report from Our State Lobbyist

July 14th, 2021

This is the end of session report provided by Todd Vandervort and the Vandervort Group.  It was a very busy and productive year for the fire service, we did very well.  Download the report HERE:

Fire Districts End of Session Report- 2021 (1) (1)

Top Ten Reasons Women are Perfect for the Fire Service

July 5th, 2021
Top Ten Reasons Women are Perfect for the Fire Service

Jill Wiseman

I recently came across an entertaining article about why NOT to become a volunteer firefighter.  When I was reading it, I realized why women are perfect for the fire service, which I would like to share with you:

  1. We don’t need sleep. Especially for those of us who have or have had children, sleep is a luxury we have learned to live without.  From cramps, to pregnancy, screaming babies, and hot flashes, we are doomed to interrupted sleep pretty much our whole lives.  Jumping out of bed in the middle of the night to deal with a crisis comes naturally to us.  It’s what we do.
  2. We want to help. From an early age we have negotiated fights, talked friends through break ups, sat in hospital waiting rooms, comforted those who have lost loved ones, sewn costumes, and occasionally stayed up into the wee hours building a diorama with a teary-eyed middle schooler. Your problems are our problems.  We got your back.
  3. We can handle the sweat. As a woman in midlife, I can say that we are well-prepared to deal with this particular challenge.  It’s my lot in life at this point. Putting on 45 pounds of gear and running around the fire ground isn’t that much different than carting around a set of twins, hauling groceries, or running up and down two flights of stairs delivering laundry to seven kids.  This is not to mention the hours sitting at the high school band fireworks booth in the blazing sun or at a soccer game, those long Saturday runs, hot yoga and sitting in the sauna hoping to drop a few pounds before my 20th high school reunion.  No big deal.
  4. Breaking down doors and using big tools is like free therapy. I have to say that forceable entry is one of my favorite things to do.  Bashing down doors is a great stress reliever for those tense days when I’ve had to let the dog out and in and out and in and out (I have a Husky), picked up yet another wet towel on the floor, and done the dishes left by the sink which is right next to the dishwasher.  Chain saws can be fun too.
  5. We fear nothing. Fires?  We’ve already put out lots of those.  We got this.  In fact, I think we will be joined by most mothers of multiples in saying that, “I’ve got twins. You can’t scare me.”
  6. Lights and Sirens. This is almost as awesome as forceable entry.  There is nothing quite like the rush you get from driving a fire truck, lights and sirens blaring!  Finally, people are getting out of my way.
  7. Volunteering is what we do. From volunteering at food banks, church garage sales, Boy Scouts, bake sales, road clean up, the animal shelter, and building a house with Habitat for Humanity, we’ve got this. We are naturals.
  8. Scene preservation. Want to figure out how this fire started?  We are experts in working around messes made by other people and preserving evidence because believe me, we don’t want to destroy any evidence that someone, like say your 26-year-old-boomerang son who keeps having midnight cooking sessions, has left behind to be able to prove how this all started and who’s Responsible.
  9. Navy blue is actually slimming. Our duty crew shirts, like most departments, are navy blue and are a great cover for the extra 5 pounds that you picked up over the pandemic or over the winter.
  10. Being part of a close-knit group who trusts one another with their lives.

My husband and kids have had their lives in my hands for years and I trust that they are prepared to back me up.  Right? Yeah, sure, dream on!

Being in a group of people who choose to face life altering events every day and help is truly inspiring.  Going that extra mile for each other, getting more training, practicing skills so the muscle memory is there and learning about the science of fire to be able to react as things evolve is proof that we are worthy of the trust we put in each other.

Ladies?  Do you have a fire in you? Its not unlike raising a family.

Capital Area Fire Districts Picnic – Making Room For Everyone – Make Reservations Now

July 4th, 2021

All Fire District Officers are Invited
From all the Counties We Represent
Washington, Warren, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Montgomery, Fulton, Schenectady & Albany

JOIN US FOR A CELEBRATION OF MASK FREEDOM AND FRIENDSHIP

ALL CAPITAL AREA FIRE DISTRICT OFFICERS, COMMISSIONERS, TREASURERS, SECRETARIES & CHIEFS,SPOUSES OR SIGNIFICANT OTHERS
ARE INVITED TO A PICNIC AT
THE GANSEVOORT FIRE DEPARTMENT PAVILION
1870 STATE ROUTE 32N, GANSEVOORT NY 12831
(JUST EAST OF THE INTERSECTION OF RT 32 & RT 50)
SATURDAY JULY 31ST
FROM NOON TO 5PM
Food will include a full picnic menu and beverages

Make Reservations now email tonyhill2619@gmail.com

The Enhanced Legislative Wrap Up

July 4th, 2021

These are fire service bills passed this session and their meaning to you in plain English.

Enhanced Leg Wrap Up 2021

Fire District Budget Process Calendar of 2022

June 20th, 2021

 TIONS.

  1. S1633/A3028, RELATES TO REMEDIES FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE NEW YORK STATE UNIFORM FIRE PREVENTION AND BUILDING CODE ACT WHICH THREATEN IMMINENT PHYSICAL HARM TO OCCUPANTS OF A PROPERTY.
  2. S6446A/A7694A, THE PURPOSE OF THIS BILL IS TO EXTEND THE COUNTY-WIDE SHARED SERVICES INITIATIVE TO INCENTIVIZE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO SHARE SERVICES

On the federal legislation front!

 

 

 

Just for the fun of it

24TH ANNUAL GOLF TOURNAMENT FAIRWAYS OF HALFMOON GOLF COURSE

Saturday August 7th 2021

Halfmoon Fire Company, Inc.

eMail; golf@halfmoonfire.org

Four-Person Scramble / Best -Ball Tournament

Cost: $100.00 per person or $400.00 per foursome

Includes; Green Fees, Cart, Continental Breakfast, Lunch on the turn, and a Beef or Chicken dinner provided by Rollin’ Smoke BBQ at the

American Legion 1450 Post Pavilion/275 Grooms Rd, Halfmoon

Beverages included

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

6:45am Registration/Continental Breakfast

7:30am Shot gun start

Prizes for 1s t, 2nd places

Longest Drive for Men and Women

Closest to the Pin for Men and Women

1st Hole-in-One (#8) Wins a New Toyota (1 yr. Lease)

Rules: Each player must use at least 1 drive each 9 holes. Each will play as close as possible t o t h e best ball chosen. If all balls are in Hazard, there will be no relief from the hazard. Ladies use RED Tees, Men use the WHITE Tees, Senior s 65 or older may use Yellow Tees.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – tear here – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Submit this for registration WITH ENTRY FEE on or before Friday July 30, 2021

eMail address to send info to                                                      Dinner Choices    Side Choices

                                                                                                  (Pick 1 Dinner)       (Pick 1 side)

Smoked      Mac

Player Name                                                                           Beef Brisk or Chicken/Mac&Ch.or Salad

  1.                         □             □             □              □
  2.                         □             □             □              □
  3. □             □             □              □
  4. □             □             □              □

 

Make check payable to Halfmoon Fire Company

RETURN RESERVATIONS TO:

JAN MCMAHON

18 DOMENICA DR.

WATERFORD, N.Y. 12188

TOURNAMENT CHAIRPERSON

CELL 858 -7437 (TEXT OR CALL)

health – safety & LODDs

SO FAR IN 2021 WE HAVE SADLY EXPERIENCED 48 FIRE FIGHTER LODD’S

We are more than halfway to where we ended last year!!

In 2020 we experienced 84 LODDs reported nationally.

The 40th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial to be held in person at the National Fire Academy in Maryland the weekend of October 2-3 2021.  The memorial may be switched to May of 2022 to avoid conflict with any federal budget shutdown.
The New York State Fallen Firefighter’s memorial will be held on October 5th at the NYS Convention Center at the Empire State Plaza.  Flags will be presented to the families who were unable to attend last year’s memorial that was canceled due to CoVid.

resources for your board

“Fire/EMS Behavioral Health: The Price We Pay” Free Workshop

With Past Chief Mike Healy (Central Nyack Fire Department) & Past Chief Jared Meeker (Lake Shore Fire District)

This program, delivered by NYSAFC in partnership with PERMA, will review the behavioral health problems that first responders face. Participants will learn how to recognize and help members who are struggling with mental health issues.

Three-hour workshops begin at 7:00 p.m. at all sites:

  • Clinton County – October 13, 2021 Clinton Co. Mental Health & Addiction Services, Plattsburg
  • Fulton County – October 19, 2021 Berkshire Fire Dept, Gloversville
  • Rensselaer County – October 18, 2021 East Greenbush #3, Rensselaer

This series is available at no cost to students through the generous support of the Public Employer Risk Management Association, Inc. (PERMA). Seating is limited due to COVID-19 safety guidelines. Pre-registration is encouraged. On-site registration will be accepted if space permits.

REGISTER HERE: https://www.nysfirechiefs.com/behavioralhealthworkshop

2021 115TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE & FIRE EXPO EDUCATION PROGRAM SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED

NYSAFC has announced the lineup of fire and EMS education programs at FIRE 2021 in Syracuse! Classes are open to Conference Full Term Registrants only from JULY 14 – 17. Many of the lecturers who planned to participate in this year’s conference will be joining NYSAFC at FIRE 2021. Speakers include Robert Burns, Butch Cobb, Jay Dixon, Jim Duffy, Mike Gagliano, Tim Klett, Sandy Lasa, John Lewis & Robert Moran, David Norman, John Norman, Tony Perez, Tom Richardson, Dennis Rubin, Mike Scotto, and more!

GET HELP WITH COLLEGE TUITION

The Higher Education Learning Plan (HELP) provides tuition reimbursement to student-volunteers for up to 65 credit hours attained at a New York State-chartered community college, online courses taken through Empire State College and four-year institutions.

https://fasny.com/resources/fasny-help-tuition-reimbursement-program/

To Celebrate RIM Month Web Based Courses for You

State Archives has developed six short, easy to follow online training sessions to help you spruce up your records management program. Click the title to listen at your convenience on YouTube.

Promoting Records Management

A program for managing records is required by law and good for business! This session will help you promote the importance of records management and identify partners and resources to help you support and maintain a program in your organization.

Assessing Your Records Management Program

Determine whether your organization’s program meets basic requirements and includes key functions to properly manage records and protect your organization from potential risks.

Records Disposition Days

Discover all the ways regular, routine disposition of records will benefit your organization!

Training Your Staff (On the Importance of Records Management)

Find out what you need to focus on to ensure staff understand what records they are creating, what records management is, and their role in it.

Records Liaisons

This session will discuss RMO responsibilities, the benefits of setting up a team of records liaisons and what their roles – as liaisons – can be in terms of achieving your records management goals and making your records program strong and efficient.

Your Five-Year Plan

Learn the importance of defining a five-year plan for your records management program, how to get your plan started and keep the momentum going once you get it off the ground.

2021 Governmental Accounting Class Schedule

Register for Accounting Schools HERE: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/local-government/academy/osc-government-accounting-schools

Cost: $85 for local officials and government employees; $170 for all others.

Introduction to Governmental Accounting (Basic Accounting School)

This multi-day school is designed to familiarize participants with the basic concepts of governmental accounting and give them a working knowledge of basic bookkeeping procedures such as understanding debits and credits, a discussion of the modified accrual system of accounting, the practice of maintaining the books and records, developing and accounting for the annual budget, as well as the year-end closing process. This school is for those individuals who possess some accounting experience, but are newcomers to governmental accounting in New York. It will benefit Chief Executive Officers, Chief Fiscal Officers, Comptrollers, Treasurers, Clerks, and Accounting Personnel.

Available Dates:

  • October 5-7, 2021– Online
  • November 16-18, 2021 – Online
Join Us for a Virtual Seminar

Budget Navigation – A Roadmap for Creating Effective Budgets for Fire Districts

The process of developing a balanced budget for your local government can be a confusing and stressful undertaking. We have developed a virtual training event to help Fire District officials understand the process behind developing a structurally balanced budget.

Topics include: understanding the budget calendar, Fire District officials’ roles in the budget process, tips for estimating budgeted revenues and appropriations and understanding of the importance of monitoring the budget, once adopted.

Seating is limited for this event, so we recommend registering early.

Topics to be discussed:

  • Local Government Budgeting (3 hour and 30 min) – This virtual training will help Fire District officials to understand the process behind developing a structurally balanced budget.

Reserve Your Seat Here!

June 30, 2021 8:30AM – 12:00PM

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7003730054527375628

Accounting Principles and Procedures (Advanced Accounting School)

This multi-day school is designed to familiarize participants with accounting and financial reporting requirements for local governments in New York. The course provides guidance on certain operational issues, such as cash management, purchasing, processing claims for payment, accounting for capital projects and utilizing reserve funds. This school is a good follow-up to our Introduction course, although attending the Introduction is not a prerequisite. It will benefit Chief Executive Officers, Chief Fiscal Officers, Comptrollers, Treasurers, Clerks, Accounting Personnel, Board Members and Department Heads.

Available Dates:

August 11-12, 2021– Online

October 20-21, 2021– Online

December 15-16, 2021– Online

BUILDING & FIRE CODE ISSUES

Home builders already “drive” legislation with a history of disregard for life safety and a disgusting misinformation campaign about the cost of residential fire sprinklers, deaths are an awfully expensive price to pay to save money.

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Deaths in 1&2 Family Dwellings in New York State                              +0=28

Location of Latest Fatality Reported, Walworth, Wayne Co., 87yo Male

Fire Deaths in all types of Residential Dwellings in NYS                            +1=53

Fire Deaths in 1&2 Family Dwellings Nationally                                            +0=734

Top three states with the most Residential 1&2 family fire deaths;

#1         PA

#2        OH

#3        TX

There have been +10= 1219 residential fire fatalities reported in the U.S. media in 2021.

Both the states of Maryland & California require sprinklers in residential occupancies.

In 2020 in New York State 68 residents perished in fires in 1 & 2 family dwellings, 30 were over 65, 2 were under 14 and 1 was disabled which is 50% of the total.

fINANCIALLY SPEAKING$$

 

 

 

 

what can we expect in the future?

 

 

 

 

 

 

What other states are doing?

 

 

 

 

DESIGNING APPARATUS OR BUILDINGS

 

 

 

 

THE ATTORNEY’S OFFICE:

FAQ 8-3

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The legal opinions published here by the Association of Fire Districts are meant to provide guidance for fire district commissioners.  The materials available are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.  The opinions expressed are the opinions of the individual author at the time the facts were presented and based on the law then applicable.  The information contained in these opinions is not guaranteed to be up to date.  The information provided is not legal advice.  Since legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing on this site should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.  The authors assume no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained herein and disclaim all liability in respect to such information.  You should not act upon information in this publication without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted to practice in your jurisdiction.

tHE CHIEF’S Office:

 

 

 

 

 

Grants for the fire service:

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation Grant
Equipment funding grants for public safety agencies and first responders

Grant Website:  https://grants.firehousesubs.com/

Grant Deadline: This program accepts applications on a rotating basis.

2021 grant application periods (subject to change)

  • Tuesday, July 6, 2021–Wednesday, August 18, 2021 at 5 PM ET
  • Tuesday, October 5, 2021–2022 Q1 grant deadline: Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 5 PM ET

Not just for the fire service

All types of public safety agencies, including fire departments, law enforcement, EMS, public safety organizations, non-profits, and schools are eligible.

The Foundation mainly focuses its resources in areas served by Firehouse Subs restaurants, typically within a 60-mile radius of a Firehouse Subs location. However, the Foundation does consider applications outside of the 60-mile guideline.

Lifesaving equipment and prevention education tools

The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation supports improving the lifesaving capabilities of first responders and public safety agencies.

The Foundation accomplishes this by providing lifesaving equipment and prevention education tools to first responders and public safety organizations.

What this grant does for your agency

Agencies awarded the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation Grant receive funds to aid in purchasing equipment.

  • “$15,000-$25,000 is a guideline”
  • “Requests exceeding $50,000 will not be accepted.”
  • If your organization has received a grant from this funder in the past, they ask that you “wait a minimum of two years from the date of approval before reapplying.”
  • Up to 600 applications accepted per application period. Only a limited number of grants will be awarded.

Grant Eligibility

All public safety grant requests must fall within the Foundation’s funding guidelines:

http://firehousesubsfoundation.org/about-us/funding-areas

Some types of equipment items are not eligible, including (but not limited to):

  • Body cameras
  • Building exhaust removal systems
  • Crash data boxes
  • Dash cams
  • Drones and drone accessories
  • Exercise equipment
  • Goodie bags
  • Guns/firearms/use of force equipment
  • Riot gear
  • Laser pointers (designators)
  • Inflatable bounce houses
  • License plate readers
  • Narcan
  • Philips FR3 AEDs
  • Pluggie the fire plug robot
  • Polar Breeze thermal rehabilitation systems
  • Portable message signs
  • Power load stretchers
  • Radar detectors
  • Recording devices
  • Refurbished equipment
  • Scott SCBA Model AP50 at this time (but “all other Scott product requests are acceptable.”)”
  • Security systems
  • Surveillance equipment
  • Sparky the Fire Dog robots and costumes
  • Stop sticks
  • Tasers
  • Throw bots
  • Traffic road barriers
  • TruNar analyzers
  • T-shirts & polos

About the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation

Founded in 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation works to “impact the lifesaving capabilities, and the lives, of local heroes and their communities.”

classified section:

The Capital Area Cooperative Project

Building Capacity for Effective Response Through Cooperation

It is no secret that there is a huge disparity in fire district budgets across New York state. Budgets range from $30,000 per year to several million dollars. Those districts in more populated areas with businesses have a much larger tax base to fund firefighting efforts while rural districts are somewhat at a disadvantage due to lower property values, lower average income, and fewer businesses to support their tax base.

Born out of discussions between Commissioners of small rural and larger urban districts at the

recent AFDSNY Annual Meeting and Conference at Turning Stone is the Capital Area

Cooperative Project. The Capital Area Cooperative Project seeks to build partnerships

between fire districts to help provide equipment and tools donated from larger fire departments

to smaller and rural fire departments within the Capital District and beyond. These better

funded districts are able to replace gear more often and many times excessed gear ends up

leaving the state. One Commissioner stated that he would rather have the gear stay in New

York and help struggling districts than to ship it out of state or even out of the country. These

underfunded fire departments can receive donated tools and equipment to ensure they can

perform their duty to save lives and protect property as safely and as efficiently as possible.

If you are interested in donating tools or equipment or requesting a donation, please fill out the

forms in the links provided and a representative from the Capital Area Association of Fire

Districts will contact you.

For Districts desiring to make a donation, fill out the form at:

https://forms.gle/a6ApHuACeu5yziJs7

For Districts desiring to make a request for equipment, fill out the form at:

https://forms.gle/HmMVv7UPvxvdp4KGA

All donations made will go directly toward the mission of helping small and rural fire

departments in need. Equipment and tools that are not NFPA compliant may be donated to

the International Fire Relief Mission to assist international fire departments with equipment

needs.

do you know why??                                                      THE LIGHTER SIDE

 

 

 

 

fire district resources – -the back page…..

What are the duties and responsibilities of a Commissioner?

….and the answer is:  https://afdca.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Powers-and-duties-of-a-Fire-Commissioner.docx

P.S. there are 12 pages…..

Vital Statistics on the State Association Regions – the break outs

https://afdca.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Regional-Vital-Statistics.docx

 

 

 

Capital Area BUSINESS PARTNER’S

Business Partner Applications Available At:  WWW.AFDCA.ORG

The Association of Fire Districts – Capital Area would like to welcome our business partners for 2021.  We will provide them exposure here and will provide space for them to provide educational commentary to help you do your job and make good decisions.

Please Support Those Who Support Us!!

This space is waiting for Your Company to become a Business Partner!!

We are delighted to see these businesses who have partnered with the Capital Area Association and this message is for you!

If you have information on new products or is educational and informative for fire districts, please submit it and we will use it in this Bulletin under the appropriate heading.

We are inviting you to be a full partner and share your knowledge to all of those who read this newsletter each week.

Explain something, define something, educate us on a standard that you deal with, explain how something works, we have over 1000 readers who want to know.

Safety First Equipment Testing

99 Glass Lake Road

Averill Park, NY 12018

518-674-8363

www.safetyfirstfirehose.com

Specializing in insurance for Fire Districts and Departments

Dave Meager

31 Church Street  Saratoga Springs, NY

518-584-5300×3243 dmeager@amsureins.com

Young, Fenton, Kelsey & Brown, PC

General Practice Matters plus –

Fire Service Attorneys

1881 Western Ave. Suite 140

Albany, N.Y. 12203

518.456.6767

68 Sicker Road, Latham, NY 12110

518.785.0900

www.bulldogfireapparatus.com

 
Ducharme Clark LLP

John W. (Jack) Clark

Maj. General, USAF (Ret.)

646 Plank Road, Suite 204

Clifton Park, NY 12065

518-373-1482phone    518-373-8758telefax

518-391-9063cell

jwclark@nycap.rr.com

www.Ducharmeclark.com

 
Haughey Insurance Agency

850 State Route 50

Burnt Hills, NY 12027

518-399-1583

www.haugheyagency.com

Mitchell Associates Architects

518-765-4571

Specializing in Fire Stations

www.mitchell-architects.com

Frank & Sons

Body Works

518-346-8119

Expert Fire Truck Repair

www.frankandsonsbodyworks.com

David Farstad, Municipal Banking Officer

652 Albany-Shaker Road, Albany NY 12211

P/F: 518-730-3120

M: 518-506-0075

farstadd@pioneerbanking.com

HANNIGAN LAW FIRM PLLC

388 Kenwood Avenue

Delmar, New York 12054

P: (518) 869-9911

F: (518) 869-9915

www.hannigan.pro

Fire/EMS –Municipal Law

 

518-432-5087

www.thelosapgroup.com,

518-783-6933

www.penflexinc.com

Fleury Risk Management

28 Corporate Drive, Suite 104

Clifton Park, NY 12065

518.478.6314

https://www.fleuryrisk.com/nysgroup497

VFBL Insurances Services

518-842-2123

106 Hannaford Plaza

Amsterdam, NY 12010

www.NBTBank.com

John Lesniewski

Haughey Insurance Agency

850 State Route 50

Burnt Hills, NY 12027

518-399-1583

www.haugheyagency.com

All Type Professional Door Service

405 N Pearl Street, Albany NY 12207

518-463-1333 – Fire Station Doors Repaired/Installed

info@alltyoedoorsny.com

 

 

518.459.6700

26 Computer Drive West

Albany, NY 12205

www.bstco.com

Brendan Kennedy ext 356

 

800 Rt 146 Suite 493

Clifton Park, NY 12065

518.300.1126

www.mytechsinc.com

Managed IT Support

Information Security Solutions

Architects & Engineers

3 Lear Jet Lane, Suite 205

Latham, NY 12110

518-765-5105

Dennis Ross, Dir of Emergency Services Market

www.H2M.com

518-785-0299

www.marvincpa.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 FIRE DISTRICT BUDGET PROCESS CALENDAR FOR 2021

On or Before September 28th, 2021

Required Action:

  • Adopt proposed budget for 2022, including fund balance estimate for 2021 (Town Law [“TL”] §181[2]).
  • File budget with fire district secretary (TL§181[3]).
  • Post budget on fire district’s website (if district maintains a website) (TL§181[3]).
  • Provide copy of proposed budget for 2022, including fund balance estimate for 2021 to town
  • clerk of towns in which district is located. (no statutory reference, but best practice)

September 29th to October 4th

Required Action:

  • Post notice of budget hearing on fire district website and signboard (if district maintains a

website/signboard) (TL§175-c[1]).

  • Provide copy of notice of budget hearing to town clerk of towns in which district is located. (Each town

clerk must post the notice on their town’s website (and on clerk’s bulletin board and town

signboard)(TL§175-c[2]).

  • Provide copy of notice of budget hearing to town clerk of towns and secretaries of fire districts with

which district contracts. (Each town clerk and fire district secretary receiving notice must post it on the

town or district website; town clerks must also post the notice on clerk’s bulletin board and town

signboard) (TL§175c-[2])

On or Before October 14th

Required Action

  • Publish notice of budget hearing in official newspaper or, if not official newspaper, in newspaper having

general circulation in district, and publicly post notice (TL§181[3][a]).

Remember That You Have Already

  • Posted the notice on fire district’s website (if district maintains a website)(TL§181[3][a]).
  • Provided a copy of proposed budget for public inspection to town clerk of towns in which district is

located [see September 29th tasks stated above] (TL§181[3][a]).

  • Provided a copy of published notice to town clerk of towns in which district is located (Each town clerk

must post the notice on the town’s website and on the town signboard) (TL§181[3][a]).

Treasurer Performs Following Task on Comptroller’s Website:

After adopting proposed budget complete tax cap levy form for New York Comptroller’s Office

and “save” but do not submit. Determine if proposed budget will exceed tax cap (GML§ 3-c(3))

On the 3rd Tuesday in October

Required Action

  • Hold Budget Hearing (TL§181[3][a]).

On or Before November 4th

Required Action

Before passing any resolutions necessary to override the tax cap levy and adopting the Fire District

Annual Budget “submit” the Fire District budget/ tax cap form to the New York State Comptroller’s

Office on the form prescribed by them. (GML3-c(7))

  • Adopt fire district annual budget (TL§181[3][b])..

On or before November 7th

Required Action:

  • Fire district secretary delivers two (2) certified copies of fire district annual budget to town clerk of

towns in which district is located (TL§181[3][c]) and obtains receipt.

Fire Service Related Bills Passed During the 2021

June 20th, 2021
FIRE SERVICE-RELATED BILLS PASSED DURING THE 2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

[A total of 13,122 bills were introduced this legislative session]

THE FOLLOWING BILLS WILL NOW NEED TO GO TO THE GOVERNOR FOR SIGNATURE

 

  1. S864/A968, CHAPTER AMENDMENTS TO THE NEW YORK STATE VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION TASK FORCE. THIS BILL MADE TECHNICAL AMENDMENTS TO THE MEMBERSHIP AND MISSION OF THE TASK FORCE.  SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR.
  2. S1210/A6401, LOSAP AMENDMENT ALLOWS FOR A PROGRAM SPONSOR TO AMEND A POINT SYSTEM AS PART OF A SERVICE AWARD PROGRAM.  UPDATING THE LAW FROM USING A PERCENTAGE OF THE TOTAL  NUMBER OF CALLS THE DEPARTMENT WAS DISPATCHED TO IN CALCULATING LOSAP POINTS, TO THE TOTAL NUMBER OF CALLS AN INDIVIDUAL WAS DISPATCHED TO WILL CREATE A MORE EQUITABLE AND EFFICIENT SYSTEM.
  3. S1318A/A1324A, CHANGES TO VFBL PROVISIONS, PROVIDE TOTAL DISABILITY BENEFITS IN THE AMOUNT OF $650 WEEKLY FOR VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS AND VOLUNTEER AMBULANCE WORKERS FOR INJURIES SUSTAINED ON OR AFTER JULY 1, 2021. DESPITE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AND TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS, INJURIES ARE STILL A PART OF THE VOLUNTEER FIRE SERVICE. SOMETIMES THE INJURIES ARE SEVERE – CAUSING TEMPORARY OR TOTAL PERMANENT DISABILITIES. THE WEEKLY BENEFIT UNDER VFBL AND VAWBL FOR SUCH INJURIES HAS NOT BEEN UPDATED IN OVER TEN YEARS.
  4. S4630B/A5418B, THE FAMILY & FIREFIGHTER PROTECTION ACT WAS PASSED AND BEGINNING DECEMBER 31, 2023, PROHIBITS THE SALE OF MATTRESSES, OR UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE THAT CONTAIN INTENTIONALLY ADDED IDENTIFIED FLAME RETARDANT CHEMICALS TO INDIVIDUALS OR HOUSEHOLDS FOR PERSONAL USE IN RESIDENTIAL SPACE. AS OF JANUARY 1, 2024, NO PERSON OFFERS FOR SALE AN ELECTRONIC DISPLAY THAT CONTAINS INTENTIONALLY ADDED ORGANOHALOGEN FLAME RETARDANTS. SECTION 2 RELATES TO PENALTIES RELATED TO THE SALE OF SAID ITEMS.
  5. THIS LAW SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR REQUIRES PUBLIC EMPLOYERS TO ADOPT A PLAN FOR OPERATIONS IN THE EVENT OF A DECLARED STATE DISASTER EMERGENCY INVOLVING A COMMUNICABLE DISEASE.  THE PURPOSE OF THIS BILL IS TO AMEND CHAPTER 168 OF THE LAWS OF 2020 TO REMOVE CONTRACTORS FROM THE SCOPE OF SUCH LEGISLATION AND TO CLARIFY THE TIMELINE FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYERS TO PUBLISH AND FINALIZE THEIR PLANS FOR OPERATIONS IN THE EVENT OF A DECLARED STATE DISASTER EMERGENCY INVOLVING A COMMUNICABLE DISEASE.
  6. S1091A/A2239A, INCREASES THE NUMBER OF YEARS OF SERVICE THAT A PARTICIPANT IN A DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLAN OR DEFINED BENEFIT PLAN SERVICE AWARD PROGRAM MAY RECEIVE A CONTRIBUTION FROM 40 TO 50 YEARS.
  7. S4064/A6296, AT THE CURRENT RATES, MOST INDIVIDUALS WHO WORK FIRE DISTRICT ELECTIONS DO NOT EVEN MAKE MINIMUM WAGE. THIS LEGISLATION WOULD GIVE THE BOARD OF FIRE COMMISSIONERS THE ABILITY TO PAY A MAXIMUM OF $70 OR $100, DEPENDING ON THE LENGTH OF TIME WORKED.
  8. S1209/A4979, CHANGES THE DATE OF THE PUBLIC HEARING TO DISCUSS THE CONTENTS OF THE PROPOSED BUDGET OF FIRE, FIRE ALARM, AND FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICTS, TO BE HELD ON THE THIRD WEEK OF OCTOBER.  THE HEARING WILL BE ABLE TO BE HELD ON ANY REASONABLE DAY DURING THE THRID WEEK OF OCTOBER INSTEAD OF ONLY TUESDAY.
  9. S3503C/A1561C, AUTHORIZES THE OFFICE OF FIRE PREVENTION AND CONTROL TO ESTABLISH THE NEW YORK STATE RURAL AMBULANCE SERVICES TASK FORCE.
  10. S1270/A5565, NO NEW VESSEL THAT HAS AN ENCLOSED ACCOMMODATION COMPARTMENT OR A VESSEL THAT UNDERGOES SUBSTANTIAL RENOVATIONS MAY BE SOLD OR OFFERED FOR SALE UNLESS SUCH VESSEL IS EQUIPPED WITH A NEW FUNCTIONING MARINE CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTION SYSTEM.
  11. S4071A/A96A, DESIGNATES HUMAN ORGAN DELIVERY VEHICLES AS AUTHORIZED EMERGENCY VEHICLES.
  12. S4233A/A6461A, PROVIDES FOR DISABILITY RETIREMENT BENEFITS FOR THE PRESUMPTION OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE FOR PAID FIREFIGHTERS.
  13. S4704A/A1108A, REQUIRES THAT MINUTES OF MEETINGS OF A PUBLIC BODY BE POSTED ON ITS WEBSITE IF THE AGENCY IN WHICH A PUBLIC BODY FUNCTIONS MAINTAINS A REGULARLY AND ROUTINELY UPDATED WEBSITE AND UTILIZES A HIGH-SPEED INTERNET CONNECTION AMENDED TO REQUIRES THAT MINUTES TAKEN AT A MEETING OF A PUBLIC BODY BE POSTED ON THE AGENCY’S WEBSITE WITHIN TWO WEEKS FROM AN OPEN MEETING AND ONE WEEK FROM AN EXECUTIVE SESSION.
  14. S4562/A6767A, AMENDS § 61 OF THE VFBL TO CREATE A PRESUMPTION OF COVERAGE FOR VASCULAR RUPTURE WHERE SUCH RUPTURE RESULTS IN THE DEATH OR DISABILITY OF A VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER, THE DISABILITY OR DEATH AROSE FROM THE DUTIES AND ACTIVITIES OF A VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER.
  15. S4615A/A5402A, PROHIBITS THE SELLING OR DISPLAYING OF CAMPAIGN MATERIAL OR SYMBOLS OF HATE BY MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS, FIRE DISTRICTS, VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANIES, POLICE DEPARTMENTS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS.
  16. S1150A/A1228A, AMENDS THE PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW TO REQUIRE DOCUMENTS TO BE DISCUSSED AT OPEN MEETINGS BE MADE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST OR POSTED ON THE PUBLIC BODY’S WEBSITE AT LEAST 24 HOURS PRIOR TO SUCH OPEN MEETING.
  17. S881/A964, PROVIDES THAT IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER APPLICABLE REMEDY OR PENALTY, WHERE A BUILDING HAS BEEN ALTERED IN VIOLATION OF ANY PROVISION OF THE UNIFORM CODE OR ANY LAWFUL ORDER OBTAINED THEREUNDER, AND SUCH ALTERATION IMPEDES A PERSON’S EGRESS FROM SUCH BUILDING DURING A FIRE OR OTHER EMERGENCY EVACUATION, THE OWNER OF SUCH BUILDING, AND ANY BUILDER, ARCHITECT, CONTRACTOR, SUBCONTRACTOR OR CONSTRUCTION SUPERINTENDENT, OR AGENT THEREOF WHO HAS KNOWLEDGE OF SUCH ALTERATION, OR AN OWNER WHO REASONABLY SHOULD HAVE HAD KNOWLEDGE OF SUCH ALTERATION BASED ON EITHER AN INSPECTION OR REPAIR OF A LEASED PREMISES WITH CONSENT FROM THE TENANT, SHALL BE SUBJECT TO A CIVIL PENALTY OF UP TO $7500.
  18. S1383/A711, REQUIRES A HOMEOWNER BE PROVIDED A COST ESTIMATE FOR INSTALLATION OF A FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEM.
  19. S391/A443, RELATES TO REQUIRING LOCAL BUILDING AND PLANNING REGULATIONS TO ACCOMMODATE THE USE OF CERTAIN RENEWABLE AND ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES.  TO PROMOTE THE USE OF ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES BY ENCOURAGING TOWNS AND VILLAGES TO CONSIDER CERTAIN ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES WHEN DESIGNING ZONING AND PLANNING REGULATIONS.
  20. S2884A/A362A, RELATES TO PENALTIES FOR CODE VIOLATIONS; PROVIDES PENALTIES FOR SECOND AND THIRD CODE VIOLATIONS.  IT ALSO AUTHORIZES LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO ENACT LAWS PROHIBITING INDIVIDUALS OR CORPORATE ENTITIES FROM OBTAINING PERMITS OR PURCHASING SUCH PROPERTY IF THEY HAVE OUTSTANDING ORDERS OF REMEDY OR IMMEDIATELY HAZARDOUS VIOLATIONS.
  21. S1633/A3028, RELATES TO REMEDIES FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE NEW YORK STATE UNIFORM FIRE PREVENTION AND BUILDING CODE ACT WHICH THREATEN IMMINENT PHYSICAL HARM TO OCCUPANTS OF A PROPERTY.
  22. S6446A/A7694A, THE PURPOSE OF THIS BILL IS TO EXTEND THE COUNTY-WIDE SHARED SERVICES INITIATIVE TO INCENTIVIZE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO SHARE SERVICES

Legislature Passes LOSAP Bill Modifying How Points Can be Awarded for Department Responses

June 20th, 2021

By Tony Hill

The New York State Legislature passed another bill on June 3, 2021 that would amend Article 11-A of the New York State General Municipal Law, provided the bill is signed into law by Governor Cuomo

This bill is S1210 / A6401 and was first introduced in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. A second bill was also introduced at that time, which allowed LOSAP sponsors to award up to five (5) points per month during the pandemic. Most readers know this second bill became law in 2020.

Bill S1210 / A6401 was also meant to address the staffing challenge fire departments were facing during the pandemic. Many departments were limiting certain at-risk volunteers from responding to calls. Although this was for the safety of those volunteers, these limitations made it more difficult to earn points under the department responses category. As a reminder, the current statute provides that 25 points are earned by a volunteer that attends a minimum number of the fire department’s total calls for the year. For departments that also have a rescue/ambulance unit, an additional 25 points could be earned for attending a minimum percentage of those calls as well. If a volunteer is restricted from attending some calls, it limits the opportunity to respond to the minimum to earn the 25 points. Additionally, the department response category is unique from other categories since it is an all-or-nothing category – either a volunteer responds to the minimum number and earns 25 points or does not and earns 0 points.

What makes this bill different from the one that became law is that it is not specifically tied to the COVID-19 pandemic – it is a permanent change to the statute that gives a LOSAP sponsor another option for how to award points for department responses.

Before we give you the text of the new proposed statute, let’s first review the summary and justification for the bill:

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Amends General Municipal Law by adding a new subparagraph (q) to address developments in how volunteer fire departments respond to emergencies by allowing programs to calculate percentages based on the total number of calls an individual was dispatched.

JUSTIFICATION:

The length of service award programs (LOSAP) are pension-like programs intended to help recruit, retain, and reward volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers for serving their communities. New York requires volunteers to earn 50 points each year to receive these benefits. One of the ways firefighters can earn points is by responding to emergency calls. However, since COVID, emergency precautions have been adopted to protect vulnerable volunteer firefighters from being exposed to the virus. Specifically, fire departments have had to reduce how many firefighters respond to calls.

This bill recognizes that not every emergency call requires all volunteer firefighters to be dispatched. The current LOSAP point system does not reflect the complexity of emergency response protocols, which only results in more emergency vehicles on our streets and represents a less efficient system. Updating the law from using a percentage of the total number of calls the department was dispatched to in calculating LOSAP points, to the total number of calls an individual was dispatched to will create a more equitable and efficient system.

The Summary and Justification make it fairly clear that the intent is to allow a sponsor to credit the points for department responses on an individual basis, rather than for the entire department’s number of calls. In the view of the legislators that sponsored the bill, this creates “a more equitable and efficient system.”

Since our expertise is not in fire department operations, we won’t discuss how a specific department operates and if an emergency response protocol is efficient or not. We are certain there are many factors to be considered.

This legislation will be helpful for larger departments that have multiple fire companies that are dispatched individually. The actual point system category in the law is titled “participation in department responses”, but then the chart detailing the percentage requirement references “volunteer fire company.” Since department and company can sometimes be used interchangeably, it wasn’t 100% clear if points should (or could) be broken out by company or tracked for the entire department. This new legislation would make it clear that a LOSAP sponsor could calculate the minimum percentage based on each company’s number of responses.

Another scenario where this could be helpful is for departments that respond to a lot of automatic alarms that don’t require the entire department to be activated. Many departments call these “chief’s investigations” or something similar because they do not activate the entire membership, but rather dispatch a chief to investigate the automatic alarm. If the chief determines that the situation requires the activation of the full department, then that step is taken. Even under the current construct of the law, we believe an argument could be made to exclude chief’s investigations as a “department response” since the entire department wasn’t activated. However, this new legislation would appear to make it clear that this can be done. (A second discussion about how to award the individuals performing the chief’s investigations with points is a topic for another time.)

In general, we question whether this new system will actually be more equitable and if it really will create efficiencies in the recordkeeping process.

For a typical department where all active members (regardless of fire company membership) are dispatched for an alarm, the ability to create sub-groups or to assign certain calls to certain volunteers could create inequity and administrative complexities – the opposite of the stated intent of the new law. An obvious example is when chiefs are responsible for responding to all calls, whereas the fire police are only needed for a fraction of the calls. Whatever that fraction is, members of the fire police will be able to earn the same 25 points as the chiefs by responding to fewer calls.

Under the existing point system rules, every active volunteer firefighter of the fire department is expected to respond to the same number of calls in order to earn the same number of points (i.e., 25). The same for the other event-based categories: each firefighter receives the same number of points based on the specific event (points for officers being the one variant). This new statute would allow some firefighters to earn 25 points for responding to fewer calls than others. This seems contrary to the spirit of the rest of the point system.

There would be further complications about how to handle people changing groups mid-year, or even joining or resigning from the fire department mid-year. We can easily see this resulting in an individual-by-individual call requirement to earn the 25 points, as seems to be indicated in the Summary and Justification. This would likely be an administrative challenge for any department – large or small.

If adopted into law, this change to how points are awarded for department responses would be optional. Great care should be taken before implementing it, and the LOSAP sponsor should review it with its legal counsel and LOSAP administrator.

The full text of the new law is below. If you have thoughts or comments, please share for everyone to read!

Section 217 of the general municipal law is amended by adding a new subdivision (q) to read as follows:

(q) The program sponsor may make adjustments to the participation in department responses point system category provided for in paragraph(vi) of subdivision (c) of this section in the event that such program sponsor adopts written emergency response protocols setting different emergency response requirements for the fire department, fire companies, squads and units thereof such that certain participants are not permitted to respond and are restricted from responding to all non-emergency rescue and first aid squad calls and/or all emergency rescue and first aid squad calls. Such restrictions on response may relate to determinations made by the district physician or department’s physician as to the duties that may be assigned to certain personnel. In the event that the program sponsor adopts different response requirements for different groups, participants in those groups shall be required to respond to the minimum number of emergency calls assigned to their group by applying the percentage provided for in paragraph (vi) of subdivision (c) of this section. Notwithstanding the provisions of section two hundred sixteen of this article, a point system amendment to address written emergency response protocols may be adopted by the affirmative vote of at least sixty percent of such governing board, without referendum. Such amendment shall only take effect as of the first day of January next succeeding the completion of the proceedings required for adoption of the amendment and shall only apply prospectively unless the new written emergency response protocol is adopted in order to address a state disaster emergency, as such term is defined in section twenty of the executive law, and applicable to the county or counties in which the fire department operates, in which case such amendment may be applied in the year adopted.