Ready To Recruit

Area Fire Departments To Open Doors This Weekend

The Falconer Fire Department will be one of 17 departments in Chautauqua County to take part in RecruitNY this weekend. The annual statewide recruitment push is organized by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York and is meant to draw volunteers to the fire service. P-J photo by Eric Tichy

For nine years, volunteer fire departments throughout New York state have opened its doors to the public in an effort to increase membership.

The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) will again sponsor RecruitNY open houses and firefighting-related activities on Saturday and Sunday. In Chautauqua County, 17 volunteer fire departments will take part in the recruitment push in which potential volunteers will have the opportunity to speak with active members

Falconer was one of eight fire departments in the state chosen by FASNY to promote RecruitNY with banners and lawn signs. For Charles Piazza, Falconer fire chief, the annual open house has paid some dividends, in the form of six members who signed up to be a volunteer after attending a RecruitNY event.

“These are very valuable,” Piazza said. “People are able to come in and see what kind of equipment we have and what it’s all about.”

The Falconer Fire Department remains one of the busiest in the county. Volunteers responded to 719 emergencies and requests for service in 2018.

On Sunday, Falconer will host an vehicle extrication demonstration as well as host a cookout for this year’s open house.

“People can come in and see the department,” Piazza said.

Chautauqua and Mayville firefighters will join forces to host an event Sunday from noon-3 p.m. at Lakeside Park in Mayville. Jessie Briggs, Chautauqua fire chief, said instead of holding the recruitment push at each fire department — where the public might not notice — the idea was made to host activities in the park where attendance might be greater.

“We’ve worked side-by-side with Mayville for many, many years,” Briggs said. “We both need members so we figured let’s do this.”

Briggs said Chautauqua has taken part in RecruitNY for four or five years. He estimates the department received one new volunteer in that time.

“Best case scenario is that it’s sunny and we have a boat-load of people come out and check the equipment and see what we do,” said Briggs, who noted that the department has about 30 active members, of whom all but eight are over the age of 40. “We want people to know that we pay for the training, and if someone is interested we want to keep them interested.”

“People in our fire district rely on us when something bad happens,” he continued.

In Kiantone, the fire department will host tours of the station Sunday at 2318 Route 60 from 1-4 p.m. In a statement, the fire department said it needs to bolster its ranks in order to serve the community.

“This is an excellent opportunity for people to meet their local volunteer firefighters and learn a bit more about the fire service,” said Josh Kibbe, Kiantone Fire Department vice president. “Volunteer firefighters are everyday heroes who dedicate their spare time to helping people in their times of need. We are always looking for new members, and it is our hope that after seeing the incredible camaraderie of the firehouse up close, more people will be interested in becoming a part of our family.”

In Cherry Creek, the department said it is looking for firefighters, junior firefighters and auxiliary members to join. The department will hold an open house Sunday from noon-4 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

The Randolph Fire Department will host its open house Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at the firehall at 70 Main St. First Chief Brian Pitts will be in command of the days events with assistance of his captains and lieutenants. Events of the afternoon will include tours of Randolph Hose No. 1 Firehouse and its eight emergency vehicles including the new 93-foot aerial platform quintuple firefighting vehicle; a panoramic presentation of the nature, structure, elements and rewards of being part of the United States Fire Service; demonstrations of the aerial platform and vehicle accident victim extrication, using the Jaws of Life; and a possible helicopter fly-in by Mercy Flight of Buffalo.

“This is a golden opportunity for people to meet their local firefighters face to face and learn more about the fire service,” said event coordinator Lt. Howard Honey. “It’s all about family, tradition and service to our fellow man. We are the eyes and ears of our nation and the ‘front line’ of help, aid and assistance to our communities. We are special and unique and we need more good people.”

On Saturday, the following departments in Chautauqua County will participate in RecruitNY: Ashville (Saturday and Sunday), East Dunkirk, Fluvanna (Saturday and Sunday), Forestville, Kennedy, Silver Creek, Sunset Bay and Westfield. The following departments will host events Sunday: Celoron, Chautauqua, Cherry Creek, Falconer, Gerry, Kiantone, Lakewood, Mayville and West Dunkirk.

In Cattaraugus County, the following departments will take part in RecruitNY on Saturday: Ellicottville, Gowanda (Saturday and Sunday), Humphrey, Little Valley, Machias, Otto (Saturday and Sunday), Randolph (Saturday and Sunday), South Dayton and Yorkshire. On Sunday, the West Valley Volunteer Hose Co. will participate.

To see times of participation for each department, go to recruitny.org/participation-area.

Established in 2011, RecruitNY is an undertaking by FASNY and supported by the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, Association of Fire Districts of New York State, Volunteer Fire Police Association of the State of New York and County Fire Coordinators Association of the State of New York.

Follow Eric Tichy at twitter.com/erictichy

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