The challenges of running a volunteer fire department — the budget constraints, cancer risks and difficulty recruiting young people — highlighted a meeting of fire officials Saturday in Albertson.
State fire officials emphasized the problems of keeping up with the changing landscape of volunteer firefighting, as they briefed about 75 local first responders on state legislative priorities.
Steven Klein, president of the Firemen's Association of the State of New York, noted that emergency medical service work constitutes the majority of calls answered by volunteer fire departments on Long Island.
But these departments are prevented by law from recovering the expenses of EMS service by billing people's insurance companies or government insurance provided, such as Medicare or Medicaid, he said. The costs are borne by taxpayers and donations, he said.
The fire association is asking the State Legislature to allow volunteer departments, which are spread across Long Island, to bill for these services.