EDISON, NJ - The Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders at its meeting last night passed a resolution requesting the Governor and State Legislature to create a statewide Special Task Force on Volunteer Retention and Recruitment to develop strategies, incentives and policies to insure that the state’s volunteer first responder ranks stabilize and grow to adequately serve the communities where they exist.
“For some time now, there has been a reduction in new volunteers willing or able to serve their communities, and a difficulty to retain existing trained and experienced members,” said Freeholder H. James Polos, chair of the County’s Public Safety and Health Committee. “Fire and EMS volunteers are true heroes of our communities and the loss of their service would be devastating, not to mention that the cost to provide paid services in communities because of a lack of or declining numbers of volunteers creates an unthinkable and unbearable hardship on the municipality and local taxpayers. Something has to be done now.”
"Our communities rely on volunteer fire fighters and EMS personnel to provide critical services to our communities," said Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski who will sponsor legislation urging the creation of the Special Task Force. "The state must do all that it can to encourage these volunteers and provide them with the support and respect that they deserve."
“The lack of volunteers is a growing concern for our communities, and I fully support this resolution to urge the State to act,” said Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios. “The safety of our residents must be ensured.”
The resolution the Board will forward to the Governor’s Office and the State Legislature states: “The men and women of our volunteer departments sacrifice their family, employment and recreational time to provide dedicated and caring service to their communities with no compensation.”
Polos said in addition to incentives, training and recertification, the pension system for volunteer first responders, LOSAP, also must be evaluated.
The resolution also recommends that the task force schedule regional workshops/focus group meetings with volunteers and local officials to fully understand the issues and to assist them with the development of their recommendation.
Want to donate or volunteer here in East Brunswick? Contact the Rescue Squad or the East Brunswick Fire District #1, East Brunswick Independent Fire Company District #2, and the Brookview Volunteer Fire Company.