Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Ladies and gentlemen, your local volunteer fire department needs you!
Volunteer companies around the region are hosting open house member events this weekend, as part of the RecruitNY statewide initiative spearheaded by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York.
Across the state and around Niagara County, volunteer fire companies are in need of additional members — young adults especially, some local fire official say — to help meet public demand for firefighting, emergency medical and general rescue services. Outside the three cities, trained volunteers are the community’s first responders.
At one-day open house events Saturday and Sunday, six area companies are inviting residents to check out their local firehouse and consider where their place is in it.
People willing to train to be firefighters, emergency medical technicians and fire police — the folks who secure crisis scenes and keep watch over responders and rubberneckers — are always in demand.
Increasingly, so are social or administrative members, meaning residents who can’t or don’t want to be first responders but have some other skill or talent that they’d donate to their local company. Some outfits are actively recruiting members with legal, accounting, media or fundraising experience, to strengthen the business side of their operations.
Others like Terry’s Corners Volunteer Fire Co. have created a new membership class, “social,” whose primary purpose is to handle fundraising so that “active” members, the first responders, can get some needed relief from double duty, according to Fire Chief Chris McClune-Case. Volunteer fire companies are only partly funded by the towns that contract with them for fire service; fundraising for equipment, gear and facilities improvements is necessary and never-ending.
“Constant training (to stay credentialed in emergency response), taking the calls day and night, working Bingo and selling raffle tickets: That’s the lifestyle of a volunteer firefighter in today’s world. Every company is short on manpower,” McClune-Case said.