Fire departments open for new members
TRI-COUNTY AREA—Fire departments are in need of volunteers so much that there is a statewide drive scheduled to increase membership on April 9 and 10.
Most area departments are participating in Recruit NY. Fire halls will host open houses on either day to make more residents familiar with the departments. According to Recruit NY, over the last several years, it has been very tough for many fire departments throughout New York state to recruit and retain volunteers for a variety of reasons. The fire departments need to bolster emergency responder numbers.
Penn Yan Assistant Fire Chief Mike Clancy said it takes about 25 responders to deal with a structure fire. He explained there are 68 active members currently, with the average age being in the mid-40s. He said two years ago there were 70 members and 10 years ago 80 members.
“I think a lot of people don’t join because they’ve never been asked. They don’t know anyone in the department,” said Clancy.
He added another deterrent is the amount of training required to be a volunteer firefighter. Clancy said the previous criterion to be certified was a course of 13 weekly classes. Now, he explained the Firefighter 1 course requires more than 80 hours. Clancy added it covers topics that are not all relevant to volunteer firefighters.
The open houses will allow people to tour the station, try-on gear, and participate in other activities. Clancy said they will also do fire truck rides. The fire departments will discuss the requirements to be a volunteer, as well as conduct demonstrations, answer questions, and let visitors know how to get involved in the fire department.
Montour Falls Firefighter Jake Burns said the department responded to around 600 calls last year. He explained Montour Falls is short staffed with 36 members. Burns said this is down from about 56 two years ago.
“We definitely need new volunteers pretty badly,” he said.
“This is a great opportunity for our neighbors to observe the exciting tasks of a firefighter. Our current members love what they do; they are everyday heroes who help neighbors in need. We hope our recruitment day will inspire other area residents to join our fire service family,” said Chief Jeff Confer.
The open houses will be:
• Penn Yan on April 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 125 Main St.
• Dundee on April 9 and 10, from noon to 4 p.m. at 12 Union St.
• Branchport on April 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 3686 Route 54A.
• Watkins Glen on April 9, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 201 N. Perry St.
• Odessa on April 9, from 9 a.m. to noon, 300 E. Main St.
• Montour Falls on April 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 111 Lee St.
• Tyrone on April 9, from 9 a.m. to noon at 3600 State Route 226.
• Hector on April 10, from 9 a.m. to noon at 5736 State Route 414.
The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) worked in conjunction with 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 to make this statewide program possible.