Schumer asks gov't for local firefighter funds

Posted: Updated:

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined dozens of people at Ramapo Equestrian Center Friday to call for increased funding for Rockland's 26 volunteer fire departments.

The plea comes two weeks after a massive force of firefighters battled a brush fire that destroyed 100 acres of land at Harriman State Park in Ramapo.

"Fighting a brush fire is different than fighting a conventional fire," Schumer says. "You need equipment, you need training. We hope to get the federal government to step in and do some of that for our brave volunteer firefighters."

The federal funds would be used to expand training, provide specialized equipment and boost volunteer recruitment. Schumer says he also wants to provide a tax credit of $1,000 for volunteer firefighters.

"It was unexpected, especially today in these tough economic times," says Hillcrest Fire Chief Klim Weppler. "We know everybody is tight with budgets, and it will definitely be beneficial to us all the way around."

The Hillcrest Fire Department has been using an ATV from the 1950s to battle fires in difficult terrain.

"When you get fires like we have in these remote areas, it's a whole different type of firefighting," says Rockland County Fire Coordinator Gordon Wren.

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