Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that legislation he sponsored, which would allow police officers to serve as officers of a volunteer fire department, has passed the Assembly (A.7618-B). The bill has now passed both the Senate and Assembly and will await action by the governor. This act would help increase enrollment at local volunteer firehouses and enable volunteer fire departments to recruit and retain more qualified candidates for leadership positions.
“Our volunteer firefighters play a vital role in responding to emergencies and keeping us safe,” said Assemblymember Steck. “Allowing police officers who have already gone through rigorous training to bring their extensive experience to the ranks of our firehouses would be a tremendous asset to our community.”
Under current state law, police officers are prohibited from being directly or indirectly involved in the sale of alcoholic beverages. Consequently, this has been interpreted to disqualify police officers from holding leadership positions within a volunteer fire department. The legislation introduced by Assemblymember Steck would amend and clarify state law to make police officers eligible to serve as officers of a volunteer firefighters’ organization, even if the fire department holds a liquor license.
“Our fire departments are completely dependent upon the recruitment of volunteers. While we recruit from all backgrounds of people, police officers are part of this recruitment and we like to see all members be part of the fire service, which includes being officers of the departments,” said Richard Haack, Town of Colonie Fire Service Coordinator. “With this law it will enable police officers to run for all offices in the fire department. We appreciate Assemblymember Steck’s dedication to the first responder community in Colonie by carrying this important legislation.”
“The Colonie Police Department strongly encourages community participation by our officers and we are very proud of the numerous past and present police officers that are members in the Town of Colonie’s 12 volunteer fire departments,” said Steven Heider, Town of Colonie Chief of Police. “The legislation sponsored by Assemblymember Phil Steck ensures that fire departments are able to further recruit and retain highly-trained police officers to serve at all levels of our volunteer fire departments.”