A bill that would give the Delanson Volunteer Fire Department a larger recruiting pool was unanimously approved Tuesday by the state Assembly.
Due to the village's small population, the department has struggled to keep its membership up. Like all fire departments in the state, it is limited by a state law that requires 45 percent of a department’s members to live within the district.
The bill would waive that requirement for the Delanson department and allow it to recruit from the town of Duanesburg and beyond.
“Delanson families rely on their volunteer fire department to provide lifesaving care in times of emergency,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, who authored the bill after Delanson Fire Chief Kevin Morrison approached him earlier this year. “It’s unthinkable that one of our family members or neighbors might not get the prompt help they need because the volunteer fire department was understaffed.”
The all-volunteer department responds to 100 to 120 calls per year, Morrison said. The department has 13 active members and needs about 20 to be adequately staffed, he said.
The fire chief said a decline in volunteerism overall has contributed to the declining membership.
“Volunteerism is not the way it used to be, that’s for sure,” he said. “Kids have so much more stuff to do now.”
Morrison thanked Santabarbara for authoring the bill, which now needs state Senate support.
“It would help tremendously,” he said. “A lot of people that come to the fire department are from outside the village inquiring about membership, and now this will allow us to pursue them more actively, instead of having to deal with a percentage of village residents being members.”