On Friday afternoon (September 4, 2020), Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.60, which "continued" the declared State Disaster Emergency until October 4, 2020. The original order that declared the Emergency was 202, and there have now been 61 "continuations" of that original order. (There was an order 202.55.1 if you are wondering if we can count properly.)
This is important to fire departments that may still be operating under restrictions due to the State Disaster Emergency, such as cancelling events or limiting at-risk volunteers from responding to calls. If this is still occurring locally, then firefighters would continue to lose opportunities to earn points that would have been earned for attending these cancelled activities. This was addressed in the recent amendment to the general municipal law allowing municipal sponsors to award up to five (5) points per month for each month that restrictions were in place. Since the awarding of these additional points is tied to restrictions imposed as a result of the Emergency, the extension of the Emergency also extends the period in which points can be awarded for cancelled events.
Even if the fire department is back to a typical activity level, there may be activities that were scheduled to be held after September 7, 2020 (the original expiration date of the Emergency), or even after October 4, 2020, that were canceled due to the planning involved in the activity. These events should be considered when the sponsor is determining the appropriate number of points to award.
Ultimately, the total number of points that are awarded by the municipal sponsor should be reflective of the events that were actually cancelled, and the missed opportunities to earn points for attending those events (or the chance to earn 25 points by responding to calls). Therefore, the extension of the Emergency should not automatically mean more points for the volunteers. We continue to suggest that the resolution adopted by the municipality include specific dates that tie to a specific number of points, thereby keeping some control over the total number of points being awarded. If an amending resolution is needed in the future, that could be done. We also continue to suggest that a municipality wait as long as possible to adopt the resolution, as the future of the State Disaster Emergency is cloudy at best.
Finally, no action should be taken by a fire department or municipality without getting advice from your local attorney. The volume and relative complexity of the number of Executive Orders requires insight from someone skilled and versed in these matters. Involving your LOSAP administrator in the discussion would be beneficial, but as with all legal matters this should be reviewed with your attorney before any action is taken.
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