The Suffolk County Legislature approved a resolution Tuesday that will establish an online training program for volunteer firefighters that could cut costs and make it easier for people to become volunteers.
The course for new volunteers is 110 hours long, with about 50 lecture hours. The lecture portion would only be offered online, said Chief Richard Stockinger of the Suffolk County Fire Academy. New volunteers would still have to go to the firehouse, he said, for essential hands-on lessons.
The program will also feature refresher courses for current volunteers. Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), author of the bill, said the program will benefit volunteer firefighters whose schedules do not always allow them to attend classes.
Suffolk County has 109 volunteer firefighter agencies. Stockinger said there are about 11,000 volunteers in the county, with more than 400 new recruits every year.
Stockinger said the program has been “highly successful” in other parts of the country and it has been in the works for more than three years.
“Throughout history we have employed technological advancements to make life easier to manage,” Hahn said in a statement. “It only makes sense to use technology to offer our volunteer firefighters a little more control over their busy schedules.”
The legislation still has to be signed by County Executive Steve Bellone.
Above: A Copiague Fire Department volunteer carries a dog that was rescued from a house fire at 25 Buena Vista Blvd. (Oct. 6, 2012)