ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Fire departments, especially in rural areas, are more often responding to medical calls than fires at times, but many fire stations are having to close their doors due to the overwhelming cost it takes to keep these services operational.
“We lost a fire department to the south, a fire department to the east, and there is another fire department thinking about stopping because they just can’t afford to keep going,” Dave Violas, works outside the Rochester area, said.
Violas says he is seeing a number of fire departments unable to keep up with costs. Closed doors means there are longer response times for emergency medical crews which could mean life or death.
“The public knows that an EMS at your door, in a timely manner can save their lives,” Senator Betty Little (R-Glens Falls) said.
“The last thing we ever want to happen is to have a call go unanswered,” Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Plattsburgh) said.
A bill is being sponsored in both the Senate and the Assembly, that will allow fire departments to be reimbursed when they go out on an EMS calls. When a hospital sends an ambulance, it will be reimbursed for the cost through a patient’s personal health insurance. For fire departments, they do not get refunded whatsoever.
“We’re not asking for anything more that’s not due to these fire departments. And I call on my colleagues in the legislature to join us in fighting for this legislation and doing the right thing,” Jones said.
Also with the number of volunteers in the state dropping, this money is needed even more. This money refunded from the patients health insurance would also be used to pay for paid staff, equipment, training and more.
“People expect to get paid for a job these days, and the costs to the fire districts and municipalities, to provide these services and to pay the staff is growing astronomically,” Jerry DeLuca, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, said.
“Please let us keep doing what we do. Help us save lives,” Violas said.