RecruitNY Attempts To Find New Volunteer Firefighters

The eighth annual RecruitNY to gather new volunteer firefighters for local firehouses is set to run Saturday and Sunday.

RecruitNY is an initiative of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York and will feature firehouses opening their doors to the public in order to connect with the public and encourage them to volunteer if able.

During the weekend those who participate will be able to see what being a volunteer firefighter entails. Current volunteers will be giving tours and demonstrating firefighting techniques.

Those who become interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter will have the opportunity to speak to current volunteers, who intend to introduce the fire service and discuss what being a member entails.

“It is a privilege and an honor to serve as a volunteer firefighter,” said FASNY President Ken Pienkowski. “Joining the fire service is an incredibly rewarding thing to do, and all across New York State, volunteers are eager to discuss this possibility with their neighbors, friends and family.”

Charles Piazza of the Falconer Volunteer Fire Department said, “We always look forward to the event.”

Piazza’s fire department has participated in RecruitNY in the past; he is hopeful that the weather plays its part in bringing people into their firehouse. Falconer will host its RecruitNY open house Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“I think it’s important to give back to your community,” Piazza said.

Fluvanna’s fire department will host its open house Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundy from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“The stats show that the past 10 years are an all-time low for recruitments to be recorded in history,” said Walid Al-jabiri, past assistant fire chief for the Fluvanna fire department. “It’s not just for Fluvanna, but the entire nation.”

Al-jabiri said 85 percent of fire services are volunteer-based throughout the country.

“What would happen if volunteeers stop volunteering?” Al-jabiri asked. “If the volunteers continue to decline, we’re heading to a very dark day. The top responders are the eldest generation; we need fresh blood in the department.”

The Bemus Point Volunteer Fire Department will demonstrate how to rescue someone from a totaled vehicle in an extracation drill around 1 p.m. Saturday. The open house will be hosted from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We’ve picked up a couple new members last year,” said Jeff Molnar, one of the assistant chiefs at the Bemus Point department. He is hopeful that they can pick up more new volunteers this year, so some of the older generation can retire.

John Griffith, the director of emergency services and fire coordinator for Chautauqua County, said there is more visiblity for the community since RecruitNY is a statewide effort.

“The volunteer fire service is a great way for individuals to give back to their community, and we at the office of ermergency services look forward to working with new recruits,” Griffith said.

The economic impact of volunteer fire services is also substantial because the cost of replacement, all-paid services would total $3.87 billion in the state. Property taxes would also rise on average by 26.5 percent without volunteer services.

RecruitNY was established in 2011 in order to encourage potential volunteers to join the cause of volunteer fire service. Anyone already interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter should attend the RecruitNY open houses in their local area.