Fire Service Legislation Included in Budget Bill
Items of interest to the Fire Service in the Budget Bill signed by the Governor
- The Heart and Lung provisions of the VFBL will be extended until 2025.
- Amendment to the Vehicle and Traffic Law to allow amber and blue lights on safety service patrol vehicles when engaged in hazardous operations in conjunction with amber lights.
- Amendments to the 205cc Cancer Disability Benefits: removing the language re: physical examination upon entering and replacing it with simply subsequent to having passed a physical exam with failed to reveal evidence of cancer, plus in place of the 5 fit tests a firefighter can present training or certification records, health care provider records, internal fire department records or any combination of official documents capable of evidencing that the firefighter meets the requirements of this section.
- For services and expenses related to suicide prevention efforts for veterans, first responders, law enforcement and corrections officers; 1,000,000.
LOSAP Amendment Makes Adjustments for CoVid19
LOSAP Amendment GML §217 & Makes subsequent amendments to GML 219-e and 219-m, to allow volunteer ambulance workers to achieve performance points under the program.
(p) For purposes of determining total points earned for a calendar year in which a state disaster emergency, as defined in section twenty of the executive law, has been declared pursuant to executive order number two hundred two of two thousand twenty, as amended, to address the outbreak of novel coronavirus, COV/D-19, an active volunteer firefighter service award program may provide for the crediting of up to five additional points per month, prorated for periods of less than one month, to each ·active volunteer firefighter for each month that special emergency response rules were in place restricting firefighter responses to emergency responses and/or restricting the holding of activities for which points could be earned due to guidelines related to the state disaster emergency. A political subdivision electing to provide the additional points authorized under this subdivision shall adopt a resolution by April thirtieth, two thousand twenty-one determining the number of additional points to be credited per month, provided that any additional points credited pursuant to this subdivision shall be in addition to any other points earned pursuant to this section during the state , disaster emergency.
The Most Recent Legislative Scorecard
The most recent Legislative Scorecard for May 25th.
Open the 2020 May Scorecard with this link: 2020 Scorecard May 25
Governor’s Executive Order Regarding Provision of Face Masks to Employees
Executive Order: Executive Order 202.16, issued on April 12, 2020, provides the following directive:
For all essential businesses or entities (which includes Fire Departments), any employees who are present in the workplace shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings for their employees. This provision may be enforced by local governments or local law enforcement as if it were an order pursuant to section 12 or 12-b of the Public Health Law. This requirement shall be effective Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m.
Guidance: Essential businesses, as well as state and local government agencies and authorities, must procure, fashion, or otherwise obtain face coverings and provide such coverings to employees who directly interact with the public during the course of their work at no-cost to the employee.
- Businesses are deemed essential by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD), pursuant to the authority provided in Executive Order 202.6. Please visit the ESD website for specific information on essential businesses. For the purpose of this guidance, essential businesses shall also provide face coverings to contractors, including independent contractors.
- Face coverings include, but are not limited to, cloth (e.g. homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana), surgical masks, N-95 respirators, and face shields. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” website for information on cloth face covers and other types of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as instructions on use and cleaning.
- Direct interaction with the public shall be determined by the employer, but, at a minimum, shall include any employee who is routinely within close contact (i.e. six feet or less) with members of the public, including but not limited to customers or clients.
- Employees are allowed to use their own face coverings, but shall not be mandated to do so by their employer. Further, this guidance shall not prevent employees from wearing more protective coverings (e.g. surgical masks, N-95 respirators, or face shields) if the individual is already in possession of such PPE, or if the employer otherwise requires employees to wear more protective PPE due to the nature of their work (e.g. healthcare).
- Employees are required to wear face coverings when in direct contact with members of the public, except where doing so would inhibit or otherwise impair the employee’s health. Employers are prohibited from requesting or requiring medical or other documentation from an employee who declines to wear a face covering due to a medical or other health condition that prevents such usage.
- Employees who are unable to wear face coverings and are susceptible to COVID-19 based on the “Matilda’s Law” criteria (i.e. individuals who are 70 years of age or older, individuals with compromised immune systems, and individuals with underlying illnesses) should consult with their employer to consider reasonable accommodations, including but not limited to different PPE, alternate work location, or alternate work assignment with fewer interactions with the public. Employers should work with their employees to see if they can be accommodated to ensure the employee can continue to deliver essential services in the safest manner possible.
- If an employer is unable to procure, fashion, or otherwise obtain face coverings for their employees, they may consult with their local office of emergency management to determine if extra supplies exist within the municipality for this purpose and, if so, they may submit a request for face coverings. Please note that quantities are extremely limited and are prioritized for health care workers and first responders. Not being able to source face coverings does not relieve an employer’s obligation to provide such face coverings to their employees.
- Nothing in this guidance shall supercede the respiratory protection equipment requirements set forth by the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Interim Guidance for Fire Service Agencies from OFPC
Please see the attached document on Interim Guidance for Fire Service Agencies from OFPC:
COVID19 and HIPPA: Disclosures to First Responders and Public Health Authorities
See guidance from: covid-19-hipaa-and-first-responders-508
Category B Public Assistance Disaster Declaration for NYS
What are Category B items that can be covered by FEMA.
Best Practices for Fire & Rescue Response adopted by Suffolk County, NY
Cleaning and Disinfecting 3M Scott Facepieces
See the information provided by Scott: CleaningandDisinfectingScott
Corona Virus and the State’s Open Meeting Laws/Commissioner’s Meetings
The statute reads as follows: McKinney's Public Officers Law § 104
104. Public notice
Public notice of the time and place of a meeting scheduled at least one week prior thereto shall be given or electronically transmitted to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at least seventy-two hours before such meeting.
Public notice of the time and place of every other meeting shall be given or electronically transmitted, to the extent practicable, to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at a reasonable time prior thereto.
The public notice provided for by this section shall not be construed to require publication as a legal notice.
If videoconferencing is used to conduct a meeting, the public notice for the meeting shall inform the public that videoconferencing will be used, identify the locations for the meeting, and state that the public has the right to attend the meeting at any of the locations.
If a meeting will be streamed live over the internet, the public notice for the meeting shall inform the public of the internet address of the website streaming such meeting.
When a public body has the ability to do so, notice of the time and place of a meeting given in accordance with subdivision one or two of this section, shall also be conspicuously posted on the public body's internet website.Public Officers Law § 104
There is no authority to waive the strict requirements for video conferencing and right of the public to be present [as opposed to webcasting to avoid public attendance].
In looking at the Governor’s March 7th emergency declaration and it should be noted that he had waived some aspects of Article 7 of the Public Officers Law for certain state agencies;
E X E C U T I V E O R D E R
Declaring a Disaster Emergency in the State of New York
WHEREAS, on January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization designated the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern;
WHEREAS, on January 31, 2020, United States Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency for the entire United States to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to COVID-19;
WHEREAS, both travel-related cases and community contact transmission of COVID-19 have been documented in New York State and more are expected to continue; and
WHEREAS, New York State is addressing the threat that COVID-19 poses to the health and welfare of its residents and visitors.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the Laws of the State of New York, hereby find, pursuant to Section 28 of Article 2-B of the Executive Law, that a disaster is impending in New York State, for which the affected local governments are unable to respond adequately,
and I do hereby declare a State disaster emergency for the entire State of New York. This Executive Order shall be in effect until September 7, 2020; and
Article 7 of the Public Officers Law, section 41 of the General Construction Law, and section 3002 of the Public Health Law, to the extent necessary to permit the Public Health and Health Planning Council
and the State Emergency Medical Services Council to meet and take such actions as authorized by law, as may be necessary to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak,
without meeting quorum requirements or permitting the public in-person access to meetings, provided that any such meetings must be webcast and means for effective public comment must be made available; and
“The Committee understands that your office has fielded multiple inquiries seeking advice on the question whether public entities subject to the requirements of the Open Meetings Law (“OML”) may in light of current concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 obtain a “waiver” of the requirement that the public be permitted to attend open meetings “in-person.”
The OML contains no “waiver” provision. The legislature did not contemplate the potential need for waivers of the “in-person” requirement for any covered entity when crafting the OML and the Committee does not have jurisdiction to grant waivers from legal requirements. Accordingly, there is no provision for obtaining a “waiver” of such requirement under the law.
However, while it appears that no New York court has yet examined a challenge of this type, the staff of the Committee believe that judicial review of an alleged violation of the OML by a public body will take into consideration that body’s desire to protect public health while continuing to perform necessary government functions. Under such circumstances, though, the staff of the Committee recommends that if any public body determines that limiting public in-person access to an open meeting is necessary given the current public health threat, those bodies should otherwise comply with the provisions of the OML regarding making meetings pubic through technology and also limit discussions and actions taken to those matters for which harm would be caused by delay in order to mitigate potential impact on constituents.”
Suspension of law allowing the attendance of meetings telephonically or other similar service:
- Article 7 of the Public Officers Law, to the extent necessary to permit any public body to meet and take such actions authorized by the law without permitting in public in-person access to meetings and authorizing such meetings to be held remotely by conference call or similar service, provided that the public has the ability to view or listen to such proceeding and that such meetings are recorded and later transcribed;
This suspension of strict Open Meeting Law requirements permits teleconference participation by Board members at meetings until such time as the Governor lifts the suspension of strict application of the statute. However, if your Board of Fire Commissioners utilizes a teleconference it will be necessary to audio record the meeting and transcribe it.
As long as you not closing the door to the public people have the ability to hear the teleconference while it is taking place as they observe those present.
Advice if you Believe You have Symptoms of COVID19
If you believe you have been exposed or that you have symptoms of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), CALL YOUR DOCTOR. Please do not walk in to your doctor’s office or to the Emergency Room and risk exposing the staff and other patients. If you arrive to Saratoga Hospital, you will be directed to a safe entry at a nearby testing location.
For all other questions, call:
NYS Novel Coronavirus Hotline: 1-888-364-3065
OR: contact your County Public Health Service
Will VFBL Cover a COVID19 Exposure?
- In addition to other sources the Saratoga County self-insurance program; VFBL and VAWBL will be covering confirmed (“documented”) covid19 exposures, all claims should be thoroughly investigated and documented. The issue of indemnity payments for individuals quarantined is an interesting one. They further stated that if the quarantined period is directed by the employer without confirmation that the virus is present or if the virus is present the exposure will need to be confirmed to determine compensability. That issue will require further investigation.
- Check with your provider!!