Governor Hochul announces $25 million in capital funding to bolster volunteer fire departments

January 2, 2024
FDNY Bronx New York Fire fighters

Governor Kathy Hochul has announced the availability of $25 million in capital grants to enhance the capabilities of volunteer fire departments across New York State.

Secured in the Fiscal Year 2023-24 State Budget, this initiative aims to upgrade facilities and equipment of volunteer fire services, reinforcing their critical role in community safety​​.

Enhancing safety and capabilities

The funding, administered by the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, focuses on improving volunteer fire department facilities and response capabilities.

Objectives include ensuring fire stations and training facilities are safe and compliant with building codes, providing essential equipment for firefighter safety and health, and supporting fire service resource consolidation for better local, county, and statewide response efforts​​.

Funding allocation and utilization

The grant program offers two funding options: $20 million for construction, renovation, or purchase of facilities, and $5 million for essential fire service equipment like personal protective equipment, communication devices, and decontamination tools​​.

State leaders’ perspectives

Jackie Bray, New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner, emphasized the increasing demands on volunteer fire departments due to emerging threats and climate change impacts.

This funding addresses the need for facility upgrades and equipment purchases​​.

New York State Fire Administrator Jim Cable highlighted the importance of enhancing the capabilities and safety of volunteer fire departments​​.

State Senator Michelle Hinchey lauded the establishment of New York’s first Volunteer Fire Services Capital Fund as a pivotal support for first responders and communities​​.

Eligibility and application process

Eligible entities within New York, serving one or more local governments, may apply.

Applicants must demonstrate how they meet the eligibility requirements.

Eligible organizations include volunteer fire companies with 100% volunteer firefighters, non-profit fire companies, and municipalities like villages, towns, cities, and fire districts with volunteer firefighter departments​​.

FSJA comment

The announcement of $25 million in capital funding by Governor Hochul marks a critical step in supporting and enhancing the capabilities of New York’s volunteer fire departments.

Given the increasing complexity of challenges faced by these departments, including the impacts of climate change and the need for advanced equipment and facilities, this funding is a timely intervention.

It acknowledges the essential role of volunteer firefighters in safeguarding communities and emphasizes the state’s commitment to ensuring their effectiveness and safety.

The allocation of funds not only addresses immediate needs but also represents a long-term investment in community resilience and emergency preparedness.

As the first of its kind, the Volunteer Fire Services Capital Fund sets a precedent for state-level support of volunteer emergency services, highlighting the evolving nature of emergency response in the modern context.

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