Fire departments to hold recruitment event in April

Mar. 16—Volunteer fire departments across New York state will open their doors to residents Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23, as part of the 14th annual RecruitNY weekend.

According to a media release, RecruitNY is a major initiative of the Firefighters Association of New York, designed to help increase volunteer membership in local fire departments.

"The past several years have been challenging for volunteer fire departments throughout New York, and many are faced with decreased membership and increased call volume," the release said. It is estimated that there are 20,000 fewer volunteer firefighters than there were 20 years ago, and "it has become increasingly challenging to recruit new firefighters and retain existing ones due to the turbulent economy, busy lives and schedules, and other factors."

The release said firefighters are responding to more calls than ever before, and calls are "increasingly diverse." Volunteers answer the call for medical emergencies, flooded basements, downed power lines, automobile accidents and fires. "More firefighters are needed to help meet these 21st-century challenges, and bolstering their ranks is critical to providing optimum and necessary levels of protection for residents," the release said.

"FASNY has worked hard over the years to develop and implement programs and events to assist New York's 1,700-plus volunteer fire departments with recruiting new volunteers. This includes utilizing federal SAFER grant funds for programs such as the 'Fire in You' outreach campaign, property and income tax breaks for volunteers, and recruitment training classes," the release said. "FASNY is also presently pursuing several pieces of legislation in Albany that would acknowledge the service of volunteer firefighters with increased benefits and incentives."

"This year's annual RecruitNY campaign comes at a time when we are in need of volunteer firefighters the most," FASNY President Edward Tase Jr. said. "We invite all New Yorkers to head down to their local departments and see what being a volunteer firefighter is all about. This weekend is a great time to meet neighbors who are volunteer firefighters and learn about how rewarding it is to help the community."

Members of the public are invited to visit their local firehouses, where volunteer firefighters will be conducting tours of their facilities, demonstrating firefighting techniques and allowing visitors to try on turnout gear. Volunteer firefighters will also discuss the requirements and rewards of joining, the release said.

For more information, contact a local fire department at its non-emergency number.