NEW YORK — It's a problem impacting the safety of communities across the state: the need for volunteer firefighters, which Chief Charles Heist says is crucial.
"A lot of members who have families, and they work full-time jobs, and you still have to put a certain amount of hours into answering alarms, training, and so forth. It is very taxing and overwhelming," Heist said.
Gov. Kathy Hochul plans to spend $10 million on two proposals; one is to offer stipends for volunteers, and the other to help pay for their training. In the meantime, in Twin District, volunteers are not as much of a challenge to obtain. Instead, it's the number of hours to commit.
"They are going to be requiring more. OK, now you have to put in 100 and something hours, and now you got to put in another 200 hours within your first two years of joining, and now you got to make calls too," says Ron Rozzler, President of Twin District Fire Department.
With over 1,200 volunteer fire departments in the state, how far can $10 million really stretch?
"It's not a huge dollar amount per company, but we're still continue to do what we do. Anything helps, but it's not a be-all to end all for us," Rozler said.