Volunteer firefighters fight for law change for emergency medical calls

Many rural fire departments that are already strapped for volunteers and other services want to be able to bill insurance companies for emergency medical calls.

The cost of EMS calls in some rural areas is falling on the taxpayers.

Richmond Fire Chief Rick Frost said his volunteer fire district in Honeoye lost one of its three ambulances because of fewer volunteers and funding. The cutback is not saving the company any money because the ambulance trips are paid for by the district not insurance companies.

“New York State does not allow us to bill if the ambulance is owned by a fire district,” he said.

Instead, Frost said taxpayers are footing the bill.

“We shouldn’t have to keep going to the taxpayers to ask them to give us more money, not when they’re already paying insurance for ambulance service,” he said.

Frost and other volunteer firefighters from rural areas are now turning to the state for help. Several fire districts from Northern Central New York met with local lawmakers at the Ontario County Fire Training Center in Canandaigua on Saturday to discuss legislation.

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