Assemblywoman Addie Russell says she agrees with local volunteer firefighters that the mandate requiring unnecessary expensive safety gear must be changed, and she’s cosponsoring legislation to change it..
Russell says she has met several times over the last two years with representatives from volunteer departments to discuss this issue as well as others that impose what she calls avoidable costs.
Russell is co-sponsoring legislation (A9000A) that would exempt small fire departments from having to have safety ropes.
Small fire departments are unable to fund these systems, Russell says, and there is still debate over the effectiveness of the systems.
Russell says better products and methods exist, and the rope systems do not work in every situation or for every firefighter. In fact, she says, these systems may be more dangerous than alternative systems under certain conditions.
The legislation provides for an exemption, which should ease the financial burden for fire departments throughout the North Country. The bill was amended well into the legislative session, thus slowing its progress, but Russell says she hopes to work closely with the main sponsor to help push it through the legislative process next year.
The assemblywoman introduced the bill that granted volunteers the same lung disability benefits as professional firefighters, and has co-sponsored legislation that repealed the commercial driver's license requirement for first responders. Both bills were signed into law by Governor Patterson.
Russell is running to keep the 118th Assembly District seat against a challenge from David Forsythe, a county legislator from Lisbon.