WANTAGH - Sen. Charles Schumer is pushing for funding that he says helps fire departments across Long Island to recruit new volunteers.

The federal grant program provides volunteer firefighters with funds to go toward college tuition. It's set to expire this fall.

Schumer says that since the program began five years ago, more than 1,000 new firefighters have been recruited. Fire officials say the tuition assistance is critical for attracting new recruits and maintaining morale.

Volunteer firefighter Nicholas Maiolita is among the hundreds of Long Island firefighters who are getting assistance from the program. It allows him to attend Nassau Community College for free while  volunteering regularly at the East Meadow fire department. He also works a minimum wage job, and says he wouldn't be able to afford his tuition if the program were cut.