This weekend, for the second year in a row, local fire departments will be making a big push to get people to join their ranks. Volunteer numbers are on the decline and as our Bill Mich tells us, local departments are hoping their efforts will translate into new help.
SOUTHERN TIER, N.Y. -- Times have changed for local fire departments.
"It used to be that there was a waiting list in certain fire companies in certain communities and I don't know anybody in this area that has a waiting list anymore to get in," said Captain Jeffrey Greatsinger of the Town and Country Fire Department.
Volunteer firefighter numbers are certainly down and it is becoming increasingly difficult to get people to sign up.
"People are busy nowadays. Everybody has one or two jobs and a lot of other commitments. So, it is difficult to get people to A, volunteer and then B, stick with it because the training requirement are pretty rigorous," said 1st Assistant Chief David Dowdle of the Bath Fire Department.
In hopes of changing their luck, fire departments across the state will take part in the second Annual Recruit New York weekend.
"The point of the weekend is to put the spotlight on it. Hopefully we get some people going through the doors. I mean, one, two, three, in a small rural community is a huge success," said Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.
Many officials from fire departments across the region have said last year's recruitment weekend didn't bring in as many people as they would have liked. So they say if you have ever thought of being a volunteer firefighter, come to this weekend's open house, talk to current volunteers, try on the numerous pieces of equipment and get a better sense of what being a firefighter in your community is all about.
"We're going to do some firefighting displays. We're going to do some vehicle extraction, rescue displays, some actual scenarios and we are going to have displays of technical rescue," said Dowdle.
"It all comes back to personal satisfaction of people feeling they've accomplished their goal, they've helped somebody. And that in itself can bring people back," Greatsinger said.
Their doors are open to anyone interested in volunteering their time.
For a full list of the participating fire departments and when they will be holding their open house, visit www.recruitny.org.