By Karen Carr Keefe
Senior Contributing Writer
Adams Fire Co. needs volunteers – and it’s going out of its way to find them.
Fire Chief Don Lauer said when the open houses didn’t draw enough new recruits, the company decided to bring its plea to the neighborhoods.
“It’s a new idea,” Lauer said.
Adams Fire Co. isn’t the only one with the problem. An initiative called “Recruit New York” was falling short. Statewide, people weren’t coming to the fire stations for open houses, according to the Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY).
“So we thought it would be more convenient if we visited their neighborhoods,” Lauer said.
The fire company’s membership was 100% behind the effort.
The program is called “14 Neighborhoods in 12 weeks.” Volunteer firefighters visit neighborhoods either at 6 p.m. Saturdays or 1 p.m. Sundays. The visits continue through Aug. 27. For a schedule of planned visits and for any updated information on the program, see the company’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/adamsfirecompany/.
“If we don’t set up in your neighborhood or on your street, please come to the nearest neighborhood we visit,” Lauer said in his news release. “We will have some fun things for your children to do while we talk to you about joining Adams Fire Co.”
He added, “I’m trying to make an effort as the fire chief to come out and talk to the adults and tell them my story and tell them what the process is for becoming a member.”
He said there’s already one new applicant and another potential member who came forward out of gratitude for what the fire company had done for his family: “He’s interested in giving back to the fire company” because they responded to his parents’ house when they were in need.
Lauer listed some of the perks of volunteer firefighting, in a news release.
“We provide free training, all the gear needed, and a LOSAP (length of service award program) retirement program, college assistance and a $200 tax credit to help you want to volunteer in your community,” he stated.
“Also in the works is a school tax and county tax reduction if you volunteer,” he said.
But some of the rewards in volunteering aren’t tangible.
Once people join, there are more benefits, Lauer said. “They’ll find out that the camaraderie between all the members is like one big family that works together with each other when people are in need.”
Next year, the fire company celebrates its 100th anniversary – a century of helping the community.
Lauer said a survey has shown that “One out of every hour people are interested in joining a fire company but are too afraid of joining; two out of every four people are interested in volunteering to give back to the community.”
There is a role for would-be volunteers – perhaps senior citizens – who don’t see themselves as capable of fighting fires but still want to help, he said.
“There’s jobs for everybody, all ages,” Lauer noted. “We have a fire police team that consists mostly of our senior members that have been with the fire company for over 40 years, that don’t want to be interior firefighters any more or exterior firefighters that support the scene.”
The fire company has 37 active members. Women fill some key roles within the company. Among women in the company there is an EMS captain, a lieutenant and two firefighters.