The number of volunteer firefighters in New York has fallen drastically over the last 25 years, and the real victims are our small, upstate New York communities.

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According to a report from The Daily Star, the number of volunteer firefighters in the state of New York has dropped 32% over the last 25 years. And the communities that suffer the most are our small, upstate New York communities, many of which rely exclusively on volunteer fire departments to save the lives of their members. The report noted that between 80 and 90% of fire calls in New York State are received by volunteer fire departments.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul is reportedly considering financial compensation to incentivize New Yorkers to volunteer at their local fire department. That could take the form of direct payments to volunteer firefighters or potentially a stipend to be given after volunteers complete the rigorous training process.

According to the Broome County Firefighter's Association, all fire departments in Broome County are volunteer fire departments except the City of Binghamton, Village of Endicott and Village of Johnson City Fire Departments. That means that two out of three Broome County residents are served by a volunteer fire department.

And for any of my fellow Broome County residents interested in joining a volunteer fire department and serving the community, you can start the process of becoming a volunteer firefighter by going to the Broome County Firefighter's Association website. The website lists a number of benefits on top of the feeling of helping your community, like tax incentives, job training and scholarships.

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