Governor signs law sponsored by Sen. Griffo allowing insurance coverage for firefighters, rescue squad members
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 5:57 am

North Country emergency workers can opt for insurance coverage under a new law sponsored by Sen. Joseph A. Griffo (R-Rome) and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The bill will provide benefits in St. Lawrence County and around the state to firefighters and ambulance workers injured while assisting at a scene before an officer in command is established.

Griffo’s district includes the towns of Massena, Brasher, Norfolk, Stockholm, Potsdam, Pierrepont, Russell, Clifton, Fine, and Pitcairn in St. Lawrence County, plus Lewis and Oneida counties.

Griffo and Assemblyman William Magnarelli, who sponsored the bill in the Assembly, worked with the governor’s office to improve the bill after the governor vetoed it last December, according to a press release from Griffo’s office.

Specifically, the two legislators addressed the governor’s concern that the bill places an “undue burden” on fire companies or municipalities. Language was added that allows them to “opt-in” by adopting a resolution on coverage for those injured at an emergency scene before an officer takes command.

“I want to thank all those who volunteer and ensure a timely response to fire and emergency scenes,” said. “I urge each municipality or fire company which provides coverage under the Volunteer Firefighters’ Benefit Law or Volunteer Ambulance Workers’ Benefit Law to adopt a resolution at their upcoming meeting to grant coverage to those individuals who begin their fire and rescue duties before an officer-in-command is present,” Griffo said.

Griffo said he will be sending a letter to all fire companies alerting them to the bill’s passage and urging them to pass a corresponding resolution as soon as possible.