The Boght Fire Department will be getting some extra help after Gov. David A. Paterson on Friday, July 30, signed into law a bill that would allow the department to recruit more volunteers from outside of the fire district, in areas such as the city of Cohoes.
The legislation (A. 11023/S.7872), sponsored by Assemblyman Bob Reilly, D-Colonie, and Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Delmar, would allow the department to recruit more than 55 percent of its volunteers from outside the district. The law would also apply to several other fire departments in different counties.
It opens it up to anyone, said Reilly. "You could live in Cohoes and be closer to the firehouse than if you were at the other end of the district."
He noted that membership in organizations such as the Elks Club and the German-American Club in Albany have seen their membership numbers go down but volunteerism in the fire department has been very strong.
"Volunteer fire fighting is a completely different animal," he said. "The time of calls and the training is very extensive, and I have never heard them complain."
Kirby Hannon, legislative representative for the Firemen's Association of the State of New York, said proximity was the most important issue that will be solved by this bill, considering how close Cohoes is to the Boght Fire House.
"You would wind up with one volunteer who lives within the district who is seven to eight minutes away and then you have one who's excluded who lives a block away," he said of the rules that were previously in place. "It's kind of counterintuitive."
Boght Fire Chief Eric Clough said the older law "didn't make sense."
"It gives us a faster response time," he said. "We've talked about it a long time and think a lot of people needed to get the idea across in order to pass legislation."