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Boght Hills FD volunteer bill awaits Senate vote

A bill to decrease the minimum number of in-district volunteers on the Boght Hill Fire Department is awaiting a New York State Senate vote.

The legislation passes the Assembly with only one nay vote Greg Ball R-Patterson, and was sponsored by Assemblyman Bob Reilly, D-Colonie.

Reilly said the bill will help the fire department recruit volunteers who do not love in the district, calling a law requiring 55 percent to be district residents a public safety concern and called the law outdated.

Fire Chief Eric Clough also said the law is outdated and it is holding the department back.

"It puts a limit on our membership for a number of people outside who we'd like to join and help us," Clough said.

The City of Cohoes, just next door to Boght Hills, has a paid fire department, Clough said, and for those who want to serve as firefighters and do not work in the fire department, Bought Hills volunteer work gives them an outlet to do so.

"There's always a need for volunteers. It's always better to have more," he said.

Clough said the waiting list for prospective volunteers gets lengthy, since those who do not live in the district have to wait for other out of district members to retire since the proportion has to be kept the same.

Reducing the restriction calling for 55 percent to be in district volunteers to 45 percent , as the bill does, will allow some of those on the waiting list to join now and it will give the district more flexibility.

Clough has been chief for five years and a volunteer member of the department for 22 years.

The 55 percent requirement is "limiting recruitment, prohibiting new volunteers from joining, and ultimately impacting public safety," Reilly said.

"The Boght Community Fire District borders of the city of Cohoes," Reilly said. "Because of its proximity to the city, several Cohoes residents would like to participate and volunteer in the fire district, but because of these residency limitations, they simply cannot. Boght is forced to turn away quality volunteers who could be helping our community."

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