Senator John E. Brooks (D-Seaford) and Assemblymember Karen M. McMahon (D-Amherst/Pendleton) have introduced legislation calling for increases in disability benefits for volunteer fire and ambulance workers across the state.
New York State law provides health care and compensation for firefighters and ambulance workers in the unfortunate event of an injury. However, the amount of benefits available have not kept pace with inflation and the levels of compensation in other sectors of the workforce. This legislation amends sections 8 through 11 of both the Volunteer Firefighters Benefit Law and Volunteer Ambulance Workers Benefit Law by doubling permanent disability benefits, temporary total disability benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, the maximum compensation for disfigurement, and maximum compensation when lost earnings exceed 75 percent.
Even in normal times, volunteer emergency personnel such as firefighters and ambulance workers take on great risk in performing their duties, said Senator Brooks. They enter burning buildings, respond to natural disasters, and are the first line of defense against outbreaks and pandemics, without pay. The volunteer benefits law that offers compensation for lost wages, added healthcare, and other considerations for those who become injured or sick in the line of duty have not been updated in decades, and are woefully inadequate in todays crisis. With this legislation, we seek to further support our volunteer emergency responders by updating and increasing these benefits and provide them and their families the peace of mind they deserve in performing their duties.
Volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers make up a large proportion of emergency responders, especially outside of urban centers, said Assemblymember McMahon. These brave first responders volunteer their services and willingly put their safety on the line to protect us. This legislation will address the outdated disability benefit levels and afford first responders and their families the security and support theyve earned.
The Firemens Association of the State of New York (FASNY) wholeheartedly supports S.8086 introduced by Senator Brooks and A.10300 introduced by Assemblywoman McMahon that would make much needed and long overdue adjustments in the Volunteer Firemens Benefit Law (VFBL), said FASNY President Steven Klein. This legislation is designed to modernize the law to better reflect current practices and to update the law to bring the volunteer fire service into a greater parity with other segments of the workforce.