Campaign highlighted need for creative recruitment methods during association’s 150th anniversary
Submitted by the Firefighters Association of the State of New York
On Tuesday, the Wendelville Fire Department hosted the kick-off event for the annual RecruitNY campaign in Western New York. Members from the Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY), along with fire service officials from Niagara County and county legislators highlighted the weekend in which volunteer fire departments across New York state open their doors to residents with the goal to increase membership. Fire department membership has suffered in recent years due to a variety of factors.
"Volunteer firefighters selflessly serve their communities,” FASNY Director and Wendelville Volunteer Fire Co. Past Assistant Chief Andrew Pilecki said. “RecruitNY is essential to bolstering membership and keeping fire department numbers at optimal levels for keeping the community safe. We look forward to our 13th annual RecruitNY campaign in Niagara County. Our doors are always open to new members, and this weekend is a great way for those who are thinking of joining to get hands-on experience at their local department.”
On Saturday, April 23, and Sunday, April 24, as part of the 13th annual RecruitNY weekend, departments from across the state will invite the community to come in and get a first-hand look at what it takes to be a firefighter. This year, the campaign returns during the 150th anniversary of FASNY.
“Rapidly increasing call volume in Niagara and across the state highlights the need for additional volunteer firefighters,” Wendelville 1st Assistant Chief Shawn Christman said. “The RecruitNY campaign is a great resource for fire departments and gives us an opportunity to open our doors and engage our local communities in this campaign. This Saturday, our doors will open at 9 a.m., and we encourage anyone who is interested to stop by for coffee with a firefighter and learn more about us, membership requirements, and how easy it is to fit emergency services into your schedule.”
The association has worked hard throughout its history to develop and implement events to assist New York’s 1,700-plus volunteer fire departments to recruit new volunteers. This includes utilizing federal SAFER grant funds for programs such as the “Fire in You” outreach campaign, the FASNY HELP college tuition reimbursement program, and recruitment training classes.
“Volunteer firefighters are the backbone of our communities and help keep us safe in many ways other than just putting out fires,” Niagara County Fire Coordinator and Director of Emergency Services Jonathan Schultz said. “The RecruitNY program provides fire departments with resources to help recruitment and training efforts. By opening up their firehouses, the public can get a first-hand look at what really goes into being a volunteer firefighter. I am proud to support this incredibly important program. Thank you to everyone working to assist our fire departments and keep our residents safe.”
During RecruitNY weekend, volunteer firefighters will conduct tours of their facilities, demonstrate firefighting techniques, and allow visitors to try on turnout gear. These types of activities give visitors a taste of what it means to be in the fire service. Volunteer firefighters will also be on hand to discuss the requirements and rewards of joining. All are welcome and encouraged to attend, including families with children.
During the COVID-19 pandemic many firehouses across New York state chose to organize a virtual open house or conduct other digital outreach to attract new volunteers. In 2019, more than 600 fire departments across the state held recruitment open houses. This year, there will be nearly 460 fire departments participating.
RecruitNY is made possible by the continuing support and generosity of Lincoln Financial Group. In 2012, LFG announced the introduction of a new National LOSAP HEROPLUSSM program. A first of its kind, Length of Service Award Program, which was designed for individual Fire and Emergency Services departments to help recruit, retain, and reward dedicated volunteers with a program that will help boost their retirement readiness.
“The everyday heroes of every community – this is for them,” said Bruce Linger of LFG. “Thank you for all you do!”
Individuals looking to find out if their fire department is participating in RecruitNY can visit www.recruitny.org/participation-area/. For more information, contact your local volunteer fire department via a non-emergency phone number or its website.
Founded in 1872, the Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) represents the interests of the 85,000 volunteer firefighters in New York state. For more information, visit www.fasny.com.