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Pass on jury duty for volunteer firefighters? Assemblyman says that could help short-staffed departments Upstate

Legislation proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara would make volunteer firefighters exempt from jury duty.

There is a shortage of volunteer firefighters in New York, and the Coronavirus Pandemic has made that shortage worse.

“Unfortunately, many of the volunteer fire departments here in upstate have been short-staffed for years, and those challenges have only increased during COVID-19, making it even more difficult to recruit and retain firefighters to serve and protect our rural communities,” Santabarbara said. “While participating in jury duty is a critical civilian responsibility, it’s important that we put the health and safety of our communities first. I’ve heard from our volunteer departments. The reality is, they are short-staffed as it is, and many of them simply can not afford to lose more members for extended periods of time.”

The measure would be similar to one that exists for active duty police and paid firefighters. The idea being that, especially in rural parts of Upstate New York, this could help ease the burden on small departments.