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Lawmakers introduce bipartisan plan to boost volunteer first responder forces in New York

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During National EMS Week, Senators Jeremy Cooney (D-Rochester) and Steven Rhoads (R-Bellmore) announced a bipartisan plan to boost recruitment of emergency service volunteers in New York. Their proposed bill (S9033) would offer free tuition at SUNY, CUNY, or community colleges to active volunteer firefighters, EMS providers, and auxiliary police officers.


Senator Cooney emphasized the dual benefits of the bill: attracting new volunteers and rewarding those already serving their communities. “This bill helps recruit more volunteers and rewards those performing life-saving work,” he said. Senator Rhoads, drawing from his 30 years as a volunteer firefighter, noted the legislation as a crucial tool for retention and recruitment amidst rising living costs.

Endorsed by various associations, including the Firefighters Association of the State of New York and the New York State Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Association, the bill aims to address staffing shortages and support the critical work of first responders.