Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) is advising prospective and active members of volunteer fire departments about an opportunity to receive tuition reimbursement through the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY).

FASNY has developed the Higher Education Learning Plan (FASNY HELP) as an incentive to recruit and retain members of volunteer fire departments. This program will provide tuition reimbursement to student volunteers.

“The FASNY HELP program is a wonderful incentive,” said Palmesano. “Volunteer firefighters are in demand all over the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Region, and this program can help meet the demand while allowing individuals to secure a more affordable college education.”

“We want people to be aware of this benefit. We believe it’s a great incentive, and we want those who serve our communities as volunteer firefighters to take full advantage of it. These individuals are investing their time, energy and talent into protecting our communities. It’s only right that we invest in their bright futures,” said Association Secretary John D’Alessandro.

D’Alessandro noted that some past application restrictions have been relaxed.

The FASNY HELP program will provide actively enrolled volunteer firefighters in good standing with up to $1,500 per semester in tuition benefits until the federal grant funding is exhausted. According to FASNY, the goal of the program is to help recruit and retain volunteers to fill a shortage left by the loss of emergency volunteer workers over the last several years.

To apply, candidates must first complete their local fire department’s volunteer membership process. They can then submit ae Volunteer Fire Department Commitment Form. Volunteers enrolling in public or private four-year colleges away from home will have to join a volunteer firehouse near their campus to remain eligible for tuition assistance.

“I have said it before and I will say it again, our emergency volunteer workers are the backbone of rural communities, and we must continue to help with the retention and recruitment of these volunteers, who provide such a valuable service to residents and taxpayers,” said Palmesano. “The great partnership we have with FASNY will play an important role in filling this community need, and I hope student volunteers will take advantage of this opportunity.”

For information on the program and how to apply, visit the FASNY web site; email HELP@fasny.com, Attn: John D’Alessandro, Association Secretary; or call FASNY toll-free at (855) 367-6933.

The program was made possible through a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant awarded by the Department of Homeland Security.