All Members and Business Partners are Invited to Our Annual Officer’s Reception

January 29th, 2023

Joyce 2

Open your invitation and RSVP at this link. Mark your calendar for March 11th and we will see you at the Embassy Suites in Saratoga Springs to share the evening.

Important Reporting Requirements for Fire Company Admin Officers

January 19th, 2023

Reprinted from FASNY Magazine with permission from Tim Hannigan, General Counsel

The tasks of a fire company board of directors vary depending on the type of political subdivision that has jurisdiction over the Fire Company. For “independent’ or “contract fire companies that contract with a Town, City, or Village, the job generally entails procurement of apparatus, PPE, insurance and all other things applicable to firemanic operations of the membership. Conversely, fire company boards in a Fire District with no contract generally focus their attention on the social and fundraising functions of the membership, only. Regardless of the type of authority having jurisdiction, though, certain duties of the fire company board of directors are the same. With the end of the calendar year upon us, now is a good time to review certain annual reporting requirements of the board of directors and the timing for such reports.


This report must be presented at the annual meeting of the fire company. Generally speaking, the annual meeting occurs contemporaneously with fire company elections. The 519 report is designed to provide a status as to the health of the corporation in terms of finances and membership. The mandatory topics that must be covered in this report and reported to the membership are:

  1. a) The assets and liabilities, including the trust funds, of the corporation for the fire company’s fiscal year;
  2. b) Changes in assets and liabilities, including trust funds, during the fiscal year;
  3. c) All revenue or receipts of the corporation during the fiscal year;
  4. d) All expenses or disbursements of the fiscal year; oration during the
  5. e) The number of members of the corporation as of the date of the report and a statement as to whether such number is an increase or decrease over the prior year; and
  6. f) A statement of where the names and places of residence of the current members may be found

The law requires that the 519 report be filed with the records of the corporation and entered into the minutes of the proceedings of the annual meeting. The Fire Company Secretary can either attach the report to the minutes, or record an abstract of the report into the minutes. The report must be verified/approved for accuracy by the President and Treasurer, the Board of Directors, or the Fire Company’s independent auditing firm.


This report is required to be filed by Jan. 15 each year in the County Clerk’s office. Most of the contents of this report can be taken from the N-PCL 519 report referenced above. Like the 519 report, this report must also be verified. The mandatory items to be included in the 1402 report are:

  1. a) the names of the directors and officers of the corporation,
  2. b) an inventory of the property of the fire company;
  3. c) a statement of the liabilities of the fire company; and
  4. d) a statement that the corporation has not engaged, directly or indirectly, in any business other than that set forth in its certificate of incorporation.

On or before Feb. 28 each year, the Treasurer is required to submit a verified report of the receipts, expenditures and balance relating to the use and application of foreign fire insurance funds (2% funds) received and disbursed by the fire company. Notably, this report applies to Benevolent Associations as well.


This report, required by March 31 each year, applies those fire companies that participate in a Length Award Program. This report is made by the fire its authority having jurisdiction. The report must list all volunteer members of the fire comp any and identify who has qualified for credit under the award program for the previous year. It is required to be certified under oath.


Commonly referred to as the “990,”this tax return is filed with the IRS on an annual basis on or before May 15, unless an extension of time is sought and granted. If your fire company has total annual revenues less than $200,000 and total assets at the end of the tax year less than $500,000, you may be eligible to file Form 990-EZ, instead of Form 990. Continuous filing of this return is critical to obtain and maintain federal tax-exempt status under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

View the Final Report of the NYS VFF Task Force

January 10th, 2023

Here is a link to the final report of the Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment and Retention Task Force.

VFF.Task.Force.Report FINAL

Directors and Officers Vote to Change Name

January 10th, 2023

At their reorganizational meeting the Directors and Officers have changed the name of this organization to be Capital Area Fire Districts Association or (CAFDA). Within the next few months we will be introducing a new logo also. The new name emphasizes the location of organization and also notes that the many members come from areas surrounding the Capital District which is normally thought of as Albany-Troy-Schenectady.  Our association is much larger and includes members from 8 counties many outside of the defined capital district.  The Capital Area covers a land mass as large as the State of Connecticut and includes approximately 98 fire districts.

Additional Information on the “new” Property Tax Exemption

January 7th, 2023

Now that the bill is signed, we now need to encourage our local government to vote to provide a property tax exemption to our volunteer firefighters, and volunteer EMS providers.

This change in the real property tax law will allow any county to adopt a local law that will provide an exemption on real property owned by an enrolled member of an incorporated volunteer fire company, department, or voluntary ambulance service.

The change in the law will exempt up to 10% of the assessed value for members who served a minimum of two years. The law would require localities that currently provide the exemption adopt a local law to conform to this provision.


Parsing the Document Bill Number S9131:

  • Amends the real property tax law by adding new section 466-A*2
  • Signed by the Governor on 12/9/22 Chapter 670
  • Provides all local governments with the option to provide a property tax exemption to volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance workers.
  • Provides a tax exemption to enrolled members of an incorporated volunteer fire company or incorporated voluntary ambulance service.
  • Shall be exempt from taxation to the extent of up to ten percent of the assessed value of such property for city, village, town, part town, special district, school district, fire district or county purposes, exclusive of special assessments, provided that the governing body of a city, village, town, school district, fire district or county, after a public hearing, adopts a local law, ordinance or resolution providing therefor.
  • The property is the primary residence of the applicant. (can’t be taken for a summer home, camp etc.)
  • Exemptions only apply to residential property.
  • In summation, the bill would allow any county to adopt a local law (let’s put that another way, it allows any local jurisdiction within any county to adopt a local law) that will provide an exemption on real property owned by an enrolled member of an incorporated volunteer fire company, department, or voluntary ambulance service. The bill would exempt up to 10% of the assessed value for members who served a minimum of two years. The bill would require localities that currently provide the exemption adopt a local law to conform to this provision.
  • Volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers provide a significant benefit to residents and taxpayers through their countless hours of service protecting our communities. Currently, less than half of counties in New York are authorized to provide a local property tax exemption benefit to qualifying volunteer firefighter and ambulance workers. This bill seeks to provide a statewide option for all local governments to offer up to a 10% exemption of assessed value to eligible volunteers. This bill provides for flexibility in administering this property tax exemption by giving local governments discretion in adopting a local law or ordinance. By expanding the opportunity to provide this critical tax exemption, it will help improve recruitment and retention of our volunteer fire and ambulance services.
  • Any city, village, town, school district, fire district or county that currently, through local law, ordinance or resolution, provides an exemption from taxation for an enrolled member of an incorporated volunteer fire company, fire department or incorporated voluntary ambulance service, such enrolled member and spouse, or an un-remarried spouse shall be authorized to continue to provide such exemption, provided however, such city, village, town, school district, fire district or county shall adopt a local law, ordinance or resolution to conform to the provisions of this section no later than three years after the effective date of this section. (In other words, the old tax exemption law and its language go away!)


December 24th, 2022


Saturday, February 11, 2023        8:00 AM               6 hour Commissioner Training   Averill Park, Rensselaer Co. w/Greg Serio

Saturday, March 4, 2023               8:00 AM               6 hour Commissioner Training   Clifton Park Saratoga Co. w/Greg Serio

Saturday, March 25, 2023             8:00 AM               6 hour Commissioner Training   Berkshire Fire District Fulton, Co. w/Greg Serio



Comm Training Schedule

Voter Burnout: Overlooked Fire District Elections Come with a Price

December 18th, 2022

Gino Fanelli

On a Tuesday afternoon in December, Charlie Ennis donned a Vietnam Veteran baseball cap and a flannel shirt and made the short jaunt from his home off Latta Road in Greece to the firehouse down the street. He went to vote for a pair of commissioners in the North Greece Fire District, an annual exercise in civic duty Ennis figured he had completed for the last 25 years. Polls opened at 2 p.m., and when they closed seven hours later, Ennis was one of 361 people to cast a ballot in a race that included four candidates, according to the election results. “Citizens in a fire district, or in any election, should take an interest in the society they live in,” Ennis said. “Whether it’s any election, when they can have a voice in the community, in society, hey, go for it.” In Monroe County, few people go for it.

Each of the county’s 23 fire districts holds elections for commissioners on the second Tuesday of every December, and collectively they draw a fraction of 1 percent of registered voters. In most places, turnout can be counted in double digits. A contested race for a commissioner seat recently in the St. Paul Boulevard Fire District in Irondequoit, for instance, drew 30 voters. In the neighboring Ridge-Culver Fire District, also in Irondequoit, 77 voters cast a ballot for a recent contested commissioner race there. The election in the Mendon Fire District last month for a contested commissioner seat saw 239 voters.

Voters could be forgiven for overlooking a fire district election. The annual races are held by statute during a busy holiday season and are, for the most part, poorly advertised. Notices for some elections are prominently displayed on firehouses’ exterior marquees, but most languish on bulletin boards inside firehouses or on district websites that few people visit. The media, too, gives short shrift to fire district commissioner contests, in part because they aren’t sexy. Running for a commissioner seat requires a candidate compiling a mere 25 signatures to get on the ballot, and campaigns are typically word-of-mouth affairs. Interviews with voters and commissioners during what could glibly be called the campaign season in December suggested that most people who cast a ballot are either firefighters or family and friends of firefighters.

“It’s kind of tough, it doesn’t get the publicity,” said Bill Lawrence, a veteran firefighter in the North Greece Fire District. “It’s important that people know what the real issues are.” What is at issue in any given commissioner election is oversight of anywhere from hundreds of thousands to several million tax dollars, depending on the size of the fire district.

The tiny Mumford Fire District that services Scottsville, for example, operates on an annual budget of about $350,000. By contrast, the North Greece district levied $11.1 million in taxes this year.


Fire districts are autonomous units of local government, independent of the towns and rural communities they serve. City dwellers might not have ever heard of one. Rochester, like most cities and even some large towns and villages, funds its fire department through its municipal budget. But outside the city limits, fire districts are how small communities get fire services. Districts are run by a board of five commissioners, each elected to serve either two- or five-year terms, that is authorized by state law to levy taxes and set budgets to pay for fire protection.

There are 750 fire districts across New York that together levied $807 million in property taxes last year, according to state Comptroller’s Office records. The 23 districts in Monroe County collectively taxed residents to the tune of $79.2 million.

A CITY analysis found that the tax burden in Monroe County varies from district to district, in some cases drastically, depending on a variety of factors that include property values, the size of the service area, and whether districts are staffed with paid or volunteer firefighters. For instance, the tax rate for services in the Barnard Fire District, which covers the south side of Greece with a staff of professionals and volunteers, is $6.57 per $1,000 of assessed property value, while the rate in the Pittsford Fire District, which is made up entirely of volunteers, is 68 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. That translates to the average homeowner in Barnard paying roughly $890 per year in fire district taxes compared with $188 for the average homeowner in Pittsford.

But the number of volunteer firefighters is dwindling here and across the state. John D’Alessandro, secretary of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, an advocacy group for volunteer firefighters, estimated that the number of volunteers across the state has fallen over the last 20 years to about 85,000 from 120,000. There are a variety of factors driving the decline, from volunteers opting for paid jobs to the dicey proposition of risking one’s life for no pay. In the end, D’Alessandro said, the taxpayer feels the difference. “Volunteer departments save taxpayers money,” said D’Alessandro, who figured that volunteers save New York residents $5 billion annually.


Like other taxing entities in New York, fire districts are by law capped at how much they can raise taxes each year. But commissioners can vote to override the tax cap, and they frequently do. Consider the spike in taxes the Laurelton Fire District in Irondequoit collected last year. The district was limited to levying a little more than $1.3 million, but commissioners overrode the cap and took almost $1.7 million — nearly 28 percent in excess of the limit. Commissioners in the Ridge-Culver Fire District have voted to override their cap every year for the last 10 years, according to the state comptroller’s records. In 2012, the district’s tax levy was $2.6 million. In 2021, it will be almost $4.4 million — an increase of 66 percent over the decade.

Keeping fire district taxes in check in a region that already nearly tops the nation in its property tax burden compared to property values is what drives Joe Camiolo to keep running for a commissioner seat in his district of North Greece. A volunteer firefighter there since 1971, and a former commissioner, he lost the race last month but plans to run again next year. North Greece commissioners overrode the cap for this year to bring its tax levy to $11.1 million. Ten years ago, the levy was $6.9 million — an increase of 61 percent. “I am very concerned about tax increases,” Camiolo said. “The governor has a tax cap, and this year it’s vastly exceeded, and they won’t see it until their tax bill in January.”



Firefighters and commissioners attributed the voter apathy to a general satisfaction with fire services: when there’s a fire, the fire department shows up.  But the lack of participation and insular electorate has not gone unnoticed in Albany, where some lawmakers are pushing legislation to modify the way fire district elections are conducted. The elections are governed by the state’s Town Law and not subject to the same oversight as general elections, despite districts managing millions of tax dollars. Polling hours typically span from 6 to 9 p.m. in most districts, and commissioners decide how polling sites are staffed and who will count the votes. Districts are permitted, but not required, to use voting systems compliant with state Election Law. Most districts use paper ballots, and while state law bars commissioners from being ballot clerks, there have been instances in the past where relatives of commissioners were reportedly tapped to count ballots. “Right now, we have fire districts running their own elections,” said Tom Abinanti, a Democratic member of the Assembly from Westchester County who has proposed legislation to have fire district elections overseen by county boards of elections and to move the date of the elections to coincide with school board elections. “I think the public should rightfully be asking, ‘How can the people running for election run their own election?’” Another member of the Assembly, William Barclay, a Republican from Syracuse, has introduced a bill to hold fire district elections on the same day as general elections.

For Abinati, measures like these are about transparency. As the system stands, the traditional checks and balances of most local government elections are not present in fire districts. Abinati acknowledged that fire commissioner races will likely never draw the same interest as contests for mayors or county executives. But, he said, perhaps they should. In the last five years, 126 fire districts were audited by the state Comptroller’s Office, and most of them were flagged for having inadequate controls over all matters of finances, from credit card use to purchasing and safeguarding assets.

One of them was the St. Paul Boulevard Fire District, which auditors found “did not adopt realistic budgets,” over-estimated expenditures by nearly $1 million over four years and bought a new insurance policy from a company that employed a commissioner who sat on the board’s insurance committee.

“These people are in this 24 hours a day,” Abinati said of firefighters. “They go to the firehouses at night after work, they hang out, they help each other out, they polish the equipment, God bless them, they do a great job.” “But,” he added, “this is all they see, and there’s nobody saying, ‘Is there a better way to do this?’”

[EDITORIAL NOTE: As I have said many times, we better clean up our act or Albany is going to do it for us and if they do it won’t be easy and it will be even more difficult to get citizens to run for the position, they sure don’t do it for the pay!!!]

Why It’s So Difficult to Change Gear Service Life Reqirements

December 5th, 2022

Jeffrey and Grace Stull

One of the more unpopular NFPA requirements related to PPE is the 10-year mandatory retirement for turnout clothing and equipment as found in NFPA 1851: Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting. The requirement states that protective elements manufactured and certified to NFPA 1971 for structural firefighting, which include garments, helmets, gloves, footwear and hoods, must be taken out a service once the item reaches 10 years from the manufacturing date placed on the product label.

While this has not been an issue for some of the more commonly replaced items, such as gloves, hoods and boots, it has been a point of contention related to garments and helmets. Some argue that this maximum service life is problematic for a variety of reasons:

  • Department resources simply are not available to replace gear;
  • The gear may be seldom used and, therefore, is in good shape for continued use; and
  • Some firefighters simply don’t want to replace their gear for miscellaneous, sometimes personal, reasons, like having a favorite helmet.


The NFPA’s periodic Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service, most recently compiled in 2020, reports the following statistics:

“Overall, nearly two-thirds of departments have firefighters wearing personal protective clothing that is 10 years old or older. This unmet need can be found in departments serving communities of all sizes, including one-third of the large departments (which protect a population of half a million people or more). Among the smallest departments, more than three-quarters (76 percent) have at least some personal protective clothing that is 10 years of age or older.”

This data clearly shows that it is difficult for a significant number of departments to provide turnout gear with a service life less than 10 years to meet the NFPA 1851 requirement.

Departments and individual firefighters also have a difficult time inspecting their gear and determining when gear is unusable, except for the obvious damage that often occurs as the result of extreme fire exposures. According to the same NFPA report, “One-fifth (21 percent) of departments neither test nor inspect their personal protective ensembles each year, and only 13 percent both inspect and test their ensembles.”

This means that some departments are struggling to monitor the condition of their gear and may be either unaware or incapable of determining if their gear is no longer providing minimum levels of protection. While NFPA 1851 has extensive procedures and criteria for how to inspect gear, it is ambiguous for telling the fire service when gear should be retired. That decision is left to the fire department, which may, in turn, have to rely on manufacturers, independent service providers (ISPs), institutional knowledge among personnel, or outside experts to provide advice for PPE retirement.


Firefighter protective coats and pants represent a relatively complex type of PPE. Turnout gear is multi-layered and contains a large variety of features, both in the components that make up the gear and in the overall product design, which affects its functionality. While this type of PPE is extremely rugged, the different types of materials can wear or degrade differently over time as a result of both use and the type of care provided. For example, reflective trim on the exterior of the garment shell is going to be affected differently than the outer shell material on which it is placed. Other materials – the thermal barrier, moisture barrier, reinforcements, padding, labels, wristlets, closures and other hardware – have different characteristics with varied responses to fireground exposures that affect gear service life.

Other than distinct physical, thermal or chemical damage, ordinary wear and tear is subtle and hard to assess. Some signs may be easy to miss, such as slight changes in color, thinning of materials, loose stitches or loss of function. For instance, “function” here could be trim remaining sufficiently bright for nighttime visibility, moisture barriers keeping liquids from penetrating, and Velcro remaining secure in retaining flaps and parts of closures. The ability to notice these changes can be difficult unless the individual performing the inspection has experience in recognizing degraded gear. The ability to skillfully detect these potential problems often only comes from repeatedly examining different gear, which is not often the case for individual firefighters.

The types of non-destructive tests that can be performed are limited. For example, coat and pant liners can be turned inside out and hydrostatic testing can be performed on parts of the moisture barrier where observed leaks can indicate an otherwise unobservable pinhole. Holding the thermal barrier up to a bright light may permit seeing the breakdown of the insulating fibers in that important layer of the gear. Shining a flashlight on the gear trim in a dark room and comparing that to new garment can give a sense for retained trim brightness. Nevertheless, the ability to see weakening of an outer shell that has been exposed to much UV light or is otherwise damaged is generally not possible unless other signs of gear breakdown are obvious or the changes are so great that the layer seems threadbare and lighter than it should. In all these cases, observations may be made, but the question remains as to whether the level of damage is acceptable for keeping the gear in service.


Specific product developments in the firefighter protective clothing industry may be increasing gear wear and tear. Some fire departments and the ISPs that commercially clean and inspect firefighter gear have been noting that some clothing has been wearing out more quickly than expected. Generally, gear that lasts 5 to 7 years based on expected usage may be showing early signs of degradation or other damage much sooner than would be anticipated, often where principal materials show evidence of weakening and thinning in seemingly premature ways. It is not known if this early wear and tear is due to greater use, worse exposure conditions, or changes in material technology, but regardless of the cause, the possible trend warrants investigation.

The gear’s complexity required to provide broad protection against a variety of different hazards is partly to blame, along with new pressures to maintain gear in safe and clean condition. The fire service desires gear with greater protection as exposures become multi-hazardous, but at the same time does not want the gear to have an adverse impact on the wearer physiologically or functionally. Striking this balance is very difficult. Consequently, when trying to address new or existing hazards more effectively, there can be tradeoffs that can sometimes shift this balance, with one result being less durable gear. In particular, making gear more lightweight, flexible and ergonomic in both material selection and design may come with sacrificing other features or attributes. Some of these tradeoffs are thought to have the effect of reducing clothing service life.

If the direction of new material and gear development are potentially making it more challenging for gear to last 10 years, and these products are still certifiable, then it follows that the minimum requirements in the governing NFPA 1971 standard are not fully discerning gear durability consistent with end-user expectations. This points to an important gap where it is left to the firefighter marketplace to figure it out. We do not believe that this is where that decision should be solely relegated. Rather, the standards should properly distinguish the durability among products.


In terms of proposed ways that the fire service can address the issue of potentially declining durability, we suggest the following medium- and long-term approaches:

  • Limit the use of structural turnout clothing to those missions that warrant turnout clothing. This approach is already being advocated by the IAFF and IAFC, though for different reasons, but offers the additional benefit of extending use life of the gear since it is used less. Of course, this approach then begs the question: If not turnout clothing, then what do I wear? The answer is multi-functional gear, which is simpler, lighter, less stressful and less expensive. We realize that simply buying alternative protective gear does not solve this problem. This approach comes with the onus of properly managing clothing for operational responses and further still requires a commitment of resources from the department.
  • Use emerging cleaning technologies that create less impacts on the clothing performance properties, which can have the effect of extending the clothing life. Some of this technology relies on the use of specialized carbon dioxide-based cleaning capabilities has been shown to have fewer effects on the gear and its performance properties. But as with any new solution, it is not without its shortcomings. In this case, the technology is relatively new and expensive, and, consequently, just not as accessible as it could be to make a large difference.
  • Even if those solutions could be considered short term, the more comprehensive path is to create material and product requirements that better address product durability for maximizing structural turnout clothing life and make these part of the soon-to-be-revised NFPA 1971 requirements. This approach can only be supported by new test methods and criteria that are applied to the certification process for new products going forward. It will require a commitment of the manufacturing industry and material suppliers to evolve some of their protection technology accordingly.


Ironically, it may turn out that under today’s changing fireground conditions, current gear does not even get close to providing a 10-year service life for moderately or very busy departments. Yet, whatever the situation, it remains clear that further clothing changes are needed to meet the ever-expanding capabilities and expectation for fire service PPE.

NYS-Volunteer Firefighter Cancer Disability Benefit Program Reporting Dates!!

November 22nd, 2022

As we all know, cancer prevention in the fire service is more important now than ever. Studies have shown that our firefighters have a greater risk of being diagnosed with cancer that the general public. We remind all our members that the NYS Volunteer Firefighter Enhanced Cancer Disability Benefits Law (NYS General Municipal Law 205-cc), requires annual reporting by fire districts. Annual reports are due to OFPC on December 1st, 2022.

Please see the letter from James Cable, State Fire Administrator, (LINK TO SFA LETTER)

the upcoming due dates and requirements.  It is important to continue increasing cancer awareness and prevention to assure our firefighters’ health and wellness. NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control provides excellent Firefighter Health and Wellness Presentations. Please contact Fire Protection Specialist,  Timothy Graves at  or (518)-292-2355 for more information.

Remember to complete the required reports and submit them by their due dates.

Due by December 1, 2022, Fire District, department or company annual claims report EOSB-210.8C. Your insurance company is able to provide a report that includes this information. []

Due by December 1, 2022, Annual Roster of Interior Fire Fighters EOSB-210.8R. This should include the list of a department’s interior firefighters from 2022 or if you have purchased an enhanced plan, all firefighters covered by your insurance plan. []

Due by January 1, 2023, Volunteer Firefighter Enhanced Cancer Disability Benefits Program
Attestation/Proof of Benefits EOSB-210.5 along with a copy of the cover sheet of the insurance policy.


Commissioner Training in the Capital Area for 2023

November 14th, 2022

Only $85.00 per person for the State Mandated Commissioner Training, 3 sessions available in the Capital Region.  Attendees outside of the 7 county region are invited to attend any one of the sessions

All three sessions being taught by Attorney and Past Chief of the Verdoy Fire Department Greg Serio

Find the information you need at this link: Comm Training Schedule

REGISTER AT:; include your name, fire district and email address

Capital Area Meeting & Training Schedule for 2023

November 14th, 2022

Download the Meeting/Training Schedule for 2023 at this link:

2023 AFDCA Meeting Schedule



Officers and Directors for 2023

November 14th, 2022
President             Commissioner - Tom Rinaldi/Stillwater Fire District
1st Vice President    Commissioner - John Meehan/West Crescent Fire District
2nd Vice President    Commissioner - Art Hunsinger/Clifton Park Halfmoon Fire District
Les Bonesteel/Burnt Hills Fire District
Tom Wood/Northumberland Fire District
Joyce Petkus/Greenfield Fire District
Ed Woehrle/Niskayuna Fire District #1
Mike Podolec/West Glenville Fire District
Our Secretary, Chaplain, & Sgt at Arms will be appointed at the January Meeting