On October 7th, Nassau County Legislator Steve Rhoads, a 27-year veteran of the Wantagh Volunteer Fire Department, Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello and members of the Majority Caucus of the Nassau County Legislature joined with members of the volunteer fire service, auxiliary police force and volunteer ambulance services to announce the newly filed legislation that permanently funds tuition assistance for volunteer first responders at Nassau Community College.
In the past, this program, commonly referred to as the SAFER grant, has helped many young volunteer first responders attend Nassau Community College for free and has helped them continue their education. In the Fall of 2018, 181 Volunteer Firefighters were enrolled in the program. This year, so far 170 are enrolled.
This legislation comes in reaction to potential threats to outside funding of the tuition assistance. Last year, the Nassau County Legislature voted to require the County to extend this tuition assistance at Nassau Community College for the 2018-2019 school year after the first threats to the federal grant which funds the program. Since the previous legislation was only for the 2018-2019 school year, this new legislation will extend the funding indefinitely, regardless of the grant’s existence. This new legislation also opens the program to Auxiliary Police Officers and Ambulance Corps workers, who were not covered by the previous program.
“Our volunteer firefighters, ambulance personnel and auxiliary police donate hundreds of thousands of hours to training and to the performance of their life-saving work each year for the benefit of all of Nassau County’s residents,” Legislator Steve Rhoads said. “Helping to keep our volunteers working for us while pursuing a collegiate education here in Nassau County helps both our communities and our young people, and serves as a valuable recruiting tool to encourage new volunteers With threats to outside funding for this program, I am happy to lead the County on extending the funding indefinitely and in recognizing the outstanding service performed by our EMTs and Auxiliary Police by including them in the program.”
“Nassau County Volunteer firefighters, ambulance corps and auxiliary police officers provide a great service to our community, often putting their lives on the line to keep us safe,” Legislator C. William Gaylor III said. “These people are volunteers, and any help we can give them is the very least we can do. I am proud to support this legislation.”