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The Middletown Fire Department is asking voters to approve a new pension-like program for their volunteer firefighters this election day. YNN's Jessica Chen has more on the Service Award Program.
MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- By day, William Imholz, 21, is a cook. By night, he is a volunteer firefighter with the Middletown Fire Department.
"I absolutely love doing it," said Imholz.
However, he said his time would be more well spent if voters approved the Service Award Program on election day.
"It's something to give back to these guys that dedicate their time to the city," said Middletown Fire Chief Tom Amodio.
He said the program would pay each qualified volunteer firefighter $700 per year. When the firefighters turn 60, they would receive that money. The program is similar to a pension.
According to officials, in order to qualify for the Service Award Program the volunteer firefighters have to earn a total of 50 points. They can earn points by attending training sessions, holding leadership positions, and responding to fire calls.
Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano said with the city hiring fewer salaried firefighters, supplementing them with volunteers would save the city millions of dollars. He said paying 125 volunteer firefighters in the city of Middletown would cost the city a total of about $87,500 per year.
"One paid fireman in the city of Middletown will cost less than 100 volunteers under this program," said Mayor DeStefano. "I don't look at it as a cost, I look at it as an investment in the volunteer system."
Imholz said the investment would be helpful.
"When I retire or get old, I have a little bit of something extra," said Imholz.
However, the love of helping others is what truly drives him.
"One of the best things in my life," he added.