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Chautauqua County Seizes State Stipend to Bolster Firefighter Recruitment

Submitted by Justin Gould on Tue, 03/19/2024 - 09:04

FREDONIA, NY – Chautauqua County fire departments are lauding a revolutionary training stipend program aimed at tackling the recruitment challenges plaguing the fire service.

This initiative, administered by the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC), stands as a beacon of hope for many small municipalities like the Village of Fredonia, where the backbone of fire service lies in the dedication of its volunteer firefighters.

The Fredonia Fire Department, under the steadfast leadership of Fire Chief Joshua Myers, stands at the forefront of advocating for the program and spearheading efforts to promote recruitment within the community. Chief Myers, a dedicated advocate for bolstering the ranks of volunteer firefighters, has pledged full support to individuals interested in joining the fire service, offering guidance and assistance throughout the application process.

"This stipend program represents a pivotal moment in our ongoing efforts to strengthen and stabilize the volunteer fire service," Chief Myers emphasized. "By alleviating the financial barriers associated with training, we can empower more individuals to step forward and serve their communities in this critical capacity."

Noel Guttman, Director of Emergency Services, Chautauqua County, underscored the significance of the program in benefiting all fire departments across the county, stating, "The launch of this stipend program is a significant step forward in addressing the recruitment challenges faced by fire departments throughout Chautauqua County. We urge members of our community who are interested in becoming heroes to reach out and explore the rewarding opportunities available in the fire service."

Volunteer fire departments, which serve approximately nine million New Yorkers, have encountered significant challenges in recent years due to a decline in volunteerism coupled with a surge in demand for their services. This program, backed by $10 million in funding, aims to address these challenges by providing stipends to volunteer firefighters upon completion of essential training courses, including Basic Exterior Firefighter Operations, Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus and Interior Firefighting Operations, and Fire Officer 1. These stipends range from $750 to $1,250, with additional funding available for the completion of OFPC training courses or equivalents, as determined by state fire officials.

"As both a former volunteer firefighter and Chautauqua County Executive, I understand firsthand the vital role our first responders play in keeping our communities safe," said Paul M. Wendel Jr. Chautauqua County Executive. "This stipend program presents a unique opportunity for individuals to join our dedicated community of firefighters, forging bonds that transcend duty and enrich the fabric of our county. I urge all who are considering this noble calling to seize this chance to serve and make a difference."

To be eligible for the stipend, volunteer firefighters must be members in good standing within their department, with stipend applications submitted by the fire chief.

"As Mayor of Fredonia, I commend the state's commitment to bolstering our volunteer firefighting ranks through this innovative stipend program," explained Village of Fredonia Mayor Michael Ferguson. "By investing in our local heroes, we not only enhance public safety but also reinforce the spirit of community resilience that defines our town. This initiative offers a tangible opportunity for individuals to answer the call of duty, forging bonds that strengthen our collective resolve in the face of adversity."

Fire departments seeking to participate in the program must have submitted fire reporting for the previous calendar year and complete the annual fire department demographics form.

"This initiative underscores our unwavering commitment to supporting our volunteer firefighters, who selflessly dedicate their time and expertise to safeguarding our communities," Chief Myers affirmed. "We are grateful for the State's recognition of the invaluable contributions made by volunteer firefighters and look forward to the positive impact this program will have on recruitment efforts in Chautauqua County."

For more information on the program, including eligibility criteria and application details, please visit the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control website: https://www.dhses.ny.gov/new-york-state-volunteer-firefighter-stipend-program.

 

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