BUFFALO--Erie County Legislator Edward A. Rath, III sponsored a resolution in support of granting local volunteer firefighters reimbursement for tuition at Erie Community College. The resolution received unanimous support during the Legislature's April 5, 2012 session.
Legislator Rath recently became aware of an issue that prohibited Erie County volunteer firefighters from qualifying for a FASNY (Firemen's Association of the State of New York) grant, which was made available to volunteer firefighters across New York State in May 2011. Because Erie County received a SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant, which paid for firefighter 1 and other firefighter training classes, local firefighters were exempt from benefiting from the larger FASNY grant, which allows up to 80 credit hours at one of Erie Community College's three campuses.
“This is a great benefit for the community, fire departments, ECC and students. It allows our volunteer firefighters to utilize this grant that other departments across the state have available to them. Erie County is being discriminated against and I was pleased to sponsor a resolution in support of an immediate solution. I brought this resolution forward so we can ensure that Erie County's volunteers benefit from these grant dollars,” Legislator Rath said. “This will be a great program that fire departments can highlight during their upcoming recruitment push.”
With the support of Legislator Rath's resolution, efforts to gain access to the $4.2 million FASNY grant will continue to move forward. In order to participate in the state-wide grant, two federal grant administrators must sign off that there is no duplication of efforts providing training to firefighters. It is expected that Erie County will be allowed access to the grant funds and be eligible in time for firefighters to take classes in the fall of 2012.
“Erie Community College is proud to work closely with the Erie County Department of Emergency Services and the Firemen's Association of the State of New York. Our faculty and staff work tirelessly to provide the area's most complete training and expertise to local firefighters, and we look forward to continue this work with the inspiring servicemen who've been a source of Western New York pride for generations. We applaud Legislator Rath's efforts with this resolution. This is yet another example of the excellent cooperation the college enjoys with our local government and legislature,” said ECC President Jack Quinn.
"Our mission is to provide a chance for a quality education to those who sacrifice their personal time 24 hours a day. It is a small contribution to say thank you and a large contribution to begin a start to a higher education," said Thomas Chmielowiec, Fire Protection and Emergency Management Support Specialist for ECC.
Once approved, the fire departments would be able to educate new recruits and current members about the eligibility clauses of the grant.
For additional information, or to speak with Legislator Rath, please contact his Legislative Office at 858-8676 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.