For Immediate Release
December 04, 2015

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Announces Twelve Organizations to Receive Funds for Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment

State Has Awarded More Than $650,000 to Organizations to Improve Recruitment and Retention to Date

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) today announced that 12 organizations will receive funding to enhance volunteer firefighter and emergency services personnel recruitment and retention efforts through the state’s Recruitment and Retention Grant Program. Today’s announcement marks the second round of funding available to organizations that met eligibility requirements in this competitive grant program. Each of the 12 organizations received various award amounts capped at $25,000 to fund recruitment and retention programs and materials, and to support organizational leadership training. The total appropriation was $275,335.


“This annual program helps volunteer fire companies, departments and related organizations across the state recruit and retain qualified first responders so that they have the personnel resources to help protect their citizens,” said DHSES Commissioner John P. Melville. “This program, funded by personal income tax filers, helps communities across the state find and keep dedicated first responders that are vital to keeping New Yorkers safe from harm.”


The Volunteer Firefighter and Volunteer Emergency Services Workers Recruitment and Retention Fund, the source of funding for the Recruitment and Retention Grant Program, was established in New York State Tax Law (section 99-q) during the 2009 legislative cycle.  This section allows personal income tax return filers the option of making a gift to the fund. The grant program is administered by the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, a unit of DHSES, and audited by the State Comptroller’s Office. To date, the state has awarded more than $650,000 to organizations to help improve recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters and emergency services personnel.


Organizations such as volunteer fire companies and fire departments, municipalities (on behalf of volunteer organizations with 50 percent or more volunteers), volunteer emergency medical services (EMS) organizations, and non-profit local, regional or statewide organizations that represent the interests of volunteer firefighters or EMS personnel are eligible to apply for a grant. Grantees may use the funds for training to promote leadership development; courses at the National Fire Academy or New York State Academy of Fire Science for training not available locally; health and wellness initiatives; marketing plans, publicity campaigns and community awareness initiatives; and sponsorship of local community events designed to recruit volunteers.

“Of the 1,775 fire departments statewide, 1,669 are volunteer fire service departments and the grant funds help these organizations recruit additional firefighters to maintain adequate staffing levels to respond to an increasing number of emergencies every year,” added Commissioner Melville. “There are approximately 110,000 volunteer firefighters in our state that help keep us safe every day. It is vital to community safety that we help volunteer fire service organizations recruit and retain these important public safety professionals.”


State Fire Administrator, Bryant D. Stevens, said, “The Volunteer Firefighter and Volunteer Emergency Services Workers Recruitment and Retention Grant Program is an excellent example of New Yorkers helping New Yorkers.  Taxpayers have the ability to support recruitment and retention efforts of their local volunteer emergency service entities when they file their taxes and, in turn, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control utilizes 100% of these funds to directly benefit those local efforts.  We encourage all taxpayers to consider supporting this effort in future years and we encourage all of New York’s volunteer fire and emergency services entities to apply for funding.”



Awards Distribution

(In alphabetical order)



Berne Fire District



Cambridge Valley Rescue Squad



Campville Fire Department



Canton Fire Department



Madison County Emergency Management


North Java Volunteer Fire Company



Ontario Fire District



Schenectady County



Southern Tier Health Systems, Inc.



Speculator Fire Department



Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund



Vischer Ferry Fire District











The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) and its four offices -- Counter Terrorism, Emergency Management, Fire Prevention and Control, and Interoperable and Emergency Communications -- provide leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other man-made and natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies.  For more information, visit the DHSES Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSES on Twitter, or visit




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