In New York, Town law establishes most of the rules for Junior Firefighters and what activities are allowed for those 16 and older. Currently, New York law does not state that junior volunteers are members of local VFDs (Volunteer Fire Departments).
What the Program Is
Minors (ages 14-18) can enter a Junior Firefighter Program in New York to train with certified firefighters; to learn about firefighting as a whole; and in some instances, help at fire scenes.
Liability and Workman's Comp
Although viewed as volunteer firefighters, Junior Firefighters must adhere to the state rules for Workman's Comp and Liability and are legally covered by both.
Child Labor Laws
Junior Firefighter Programs must adhere to New York's Child Labor Laws including number of hours allowed to work, age restrictions and working with hazardous materials.
Age for Activities
In most areas of New York, a Junior Firefighter may ride in a vehicle responding to an emergency at 16 years old. The age for a Junior Firefighter to enter a structure at a fire scene once deemed safe by the Commander varies from municipality to municipality. Town law will determine if any other age restrictions are in place.
Boy Scouts of America Explorer Program
The state of New York does not recognize the Boy Scouts of America firefighter explorer program as a part of a VFD, so even if town law allows for participation in firefighting activities, a member of this program will not be allowed to participate.