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Value of Volunteer, Paid Firefighters

By Jason Weinstein.
The state's nearly 100,000 volunteer firefighters save New York taxpayers more than $3.8 billion each year. this according to a study by the Firemen's Association of the State of New York.

The group says if localities throughout New York switched to all-paid fire service almost 31,000 firefighters would need to be hired. Additionally, 1,300 stations would have to be built new or reconstructed.

Vestal Supervisor John Schaffer says the town spends $1.2 million on it's volunteer squad. He estimates a professional squad would cost the town $3.6 million.

"They save us a lot of money. We have a $1.2 million budget with them. They'd like it to be $2 million but the taxpayers just can't afford it. If we had to put paid firefighters in we'd be out of business," said Schaffer.

The New York State Professional Firefighters Association has conducted a study of it's own. It says the State’s training requirements for professional firefighters are significantly more stringent and comprehensive than that for volunteer firefighters. It also recommends consolidating some volunteer squads and supplementing them with professional firefighters.