By Daniel Marielle
Fire departments all across New York will open their doors and bays to local residents to learn about volunteer firefighting and what it takes to be a firefighter as part of the Firemen's Association of the State of New York fifth annual RecruitNY initiative.
The initiative was designed to help increase volunteer membership in local departments and give citizens a chance to get involved and make a difference in something important in the community.
FASNY serves many purposes, such as offering training and educational programs, but RecruitNY is one of its most successful initiatives to recruit volunteers. It boosts recruitment, sparks people's interest and strengthens the amount of emergency responder numbers in the area, which will ensure the highest level of protection in the community. Over the past several years, it has been tough for volunteer fire companies to recruit and retain firefighters for different reasons and issues.
"FASNY understands memberships are down. That is why, over recent years, we have worked exceptionally hard to build and deploy a multi-tiered plan for helping New York state's more than 1,700 volunteer fire departments recruit more than 15,000 new volunteer firefighters across the state," FASNY President Robert McConville wrote on the group's website. "It wouldn't be possible without utilizing federal safer grant funds for programs, including the 'Fire in You' advertising campaign, community college tuition reimbursement program (FASNY HELP) and recruitment training classes."
RecruitNY was established in 2011 and is a continuing joint effort by FASNY, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, the Association of Fire Districts of New York State, the Volunteer Fire Police Association of the State of New York and the County Fire Coordinators Association of the State of New York.
"Last year, nearly 600 fire departments in 59 counties across the state held recruitment open houses," McConville wrote. "FASNY is expecting a good turnout again this year and is hopeful that RecruitNY will continue to grow and gain popularity within each community."
As part of RecruitNY, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 25, Frontier Volunteer Fire Co., 2179 River Road in Wheatfield, will join other volunteer fire departments across the state in a unified recruitment effort.
Throughout the day, Frontier Fire Co. will conduct tours of the facility, fire fighting equipment and machinery. Visitors will also get a chance to try on firefighting gear, be shown proper firefighting techniques and be provided with activities and interesting informational opportunities throughout the station. For the duration of the recruitment effort, department members will be there to answer any questions, show the process of joining a local department and, most importantly, teach what it takes to be a volunteer firefighter.
"Come on out and join the town fire companies for a unique experience on recruitment day at our firehouses," said Marc Kasprzak, Wheatfield Town Fire Advisory Board chairman. "This is a great opportunity for our neighbors to observe the exciting tasks of a firefighter."
For a complete list of departments participating in RecruitNY, visit www.recruitny.org/participation-area.