College tuition aid offered for recruiting volunteer firefighters in NY

Volunteers statewide cover a fire service area of 47,214 square miles and provide protection for 9.8 million citizens


By Matt Gryta
The Buffalo News

NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. — The Firemen's Association of the State of New York, seeking to recruit volunteer firefighters statewide, is offering a community college tuition reimbursement deal for Western New Yorkers interested in studying at Niagara County or Genesee community colleges.

The association has received a nearly $4.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to undertake the recruitment effort, FASNY spokeswoman Sarah Ezon said.

With a Saturday deadline for reimbursement for the fall semester, parties interested in the FASNY Higher Education Learning Plan are urged to go online to www.fasny.com and click on information involving the Tuition Reimbursement Program. The deadline for the spring semester will be Feb. 1.

Association President David Jacobowitz said the tuition offer is part of an aggressive, multipronged "statewide recruitment and retention program."

"Now more than ever we need volunteers serving our communities so that the same optimal level of fire and emergency protection can be sustained for the safety of the citizens of this state," said George Davenport, chairman of the association's recruitment and retention committee. Association leaders said the goal is to attract more than 15,000 new firefighters over the next four years statewide.

They said the latest state studies show that if all fire protective services now provided by volunteers were funded by taxpayers, it would add about $2.8 billion in pay and benefits, firefighter equipment and general operating costs per year.

Volunteers statewide cover a fire service area of 47,214 square miles and provide protection for 9.8 million citizens through 1,740 volunteer fire agencies served by almost 89,000 volunteer firefighters.

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