The five Town of Wheatfield volunteer fire companies will open their doors to area residents this weekend as part of a statewide program called RecruitNY. Special events for kids and adults, as well as information on how to become a volunteer firefighter, will be offered.
Over the last several years, it has been very tough for many fire departments throughout state to recruit and retain volunteers for a variety of reasons. Like most volunteer fire departments, the Town of Wheatfield fire companies need to bolster their emergency responder numbers, so they can continue to provide the optimum level of protection for their residents, said Marc Kasprzak, Wheatfield Fire Advisory Board chairman and Shawnee Volunteer Fire Co. assistant chief.
On Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28, the five fire companies that serve Wheatfield will hold open houses for a unified recruitment drive, as part of National Volunteer Week 2013.
Not only will RecruitNY be an opportunity to highlight the duties and rewards that come with being a volunteer firefighter, it will also raise public awareness about the need for volunteers. The hope is that a collaborative effort among volunteer fire departments statewide will turn the declining number of volunteer firefighters around, Kasprzak said. Duane Stoelting of the Bergholz Volunteer Fire Co. noted RecruitNY also will highlight some rewards of volunteering that might not be generally known by the public, such as town-sponsored service awards, state tax credits and college tuition reimbursement.
The Wheatfield fire companies plan to conduct tours of their stations and firefighter apparatus, allow visitors to try on firefighter gear, and provide activities throughout their firehouses for visitors. The fire companies will discuss the requirements to be a volunteer, as well as conduct demonstrations, answer questions, and let visitors know how to get involved in each of the companies.
Some fire companies also are sponsoring additional special activities. The Bergholz open house on Saturday, for instance, will feature door prizes, a demonstration of an auto extraction using the Jaws of Life, fire truck rides, Niagara County Sheriff's Office child safety seat checks from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a Mercy Flight landing around noon, and music by the Bergholz German Band from 2 to 3 p.m.
Larry Kensinger of Frontier Volunteer Fire Co. said his company's open house on Sunday will include demonstrations, fire truck rides, a puppet show and refreshments, as well as an opportunity to see the new light rescue truck.
"Come on out and join us for this unique recruitment day at our firehouses," said Kasprzak. "This is a great opportunity for our neighbors to observe the exciting tasks of a firefighter. Our current members love what they do; they are everyday heroes who help neighbors in need. We hope our recruitment day will inspire other area residents to join our fire service family."
In Wheatfield, recruitment open houses will be held at:
•Adams Volunteer Fire Co., at Adams Station 2, 3805 Klemer Road, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 27.
•Bergholz Volunteer Fire Co., 2470 Niagara Road, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27.
•Frontier Volunteer Fire Co., at its hall at 2179 River Road, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 28.
•St. Johnsburg Volunteer Fire Co., 7165 Ward Road, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 28.
•Shawnee Volunteer Fire Co., 3747 Lockport Road, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27.
Call the individual fire company's non-emergency phone numbers for more information.
Established in 2011, RecruitNY is a joint undertaking by the Firemen's Association of the State of New York, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, Association of Fire Districts of New York State, Volunteer Fire Police Association of the State of New York, and County Fire Coordinators Association of the State of New York.