Volunteer firefighters are often the first ones on the scene when disaster strikes in your home, but the number of people signing up for the job has continued to decrease over the years. Our Amanda Kelley tells us what opportunities are available at North Country fire departments for those looking for a good way to use some of their extra time.
ADAMS, N.Y. -- Many consider the job heroic, others say they could never do it. But volunteer firefighters keep homes and families safe on a daily basis.
Adams Fire Chief Brian Berkey said, "We're not there for the glory, we're there to help people."
Volunteer firefighter Tony Alicea said, "A lot of people will say you're crazy for going inside a burning building but when I see one of my friends going in there from the fire department I want to be by his side and do everything I can to make sure he's going to make it out ok and that he's safe."
Local departments are struggling to keep their memberships up and are actively looking for new members this weekend as part of the statewide Recruit-NY initiative.
Former Adams Fire Chief Bob Simpson said, "Its tough to get people to volunteer to do anything. There's a lot of competition for the people, a lot of competition with other agencies that want you to volunteer for them."
One challenge is the major time commitment. There's course work to complete, training, fundraising and of course being willing to run when the fire whistle blows.
Alicea said, "It's a volunteer organization, you give what you can, you know if you could make it to every call that would be great, but they don't expect that."
But if suiting up and going into a burning building isn't your sort of thing, there's still a spot for you at your local fire department. Simpson said, "We can find tasks for a lot of people if we have people that just aren't cut out to be an interior firefighter. Maybe they can be an apparatus operator or help us in other ways administratively and so on."
Berkey said, "You can help the fire department out in fundraisers, we have bingo here, we have scene support."
Volunteers say their local fire departments become their second families and they're proud to be there for their neighbors in times of need.
Alicea said, "It makes you feel good, it makes you feel real good."
Just some of the reasons to consider donating your time to a local fire department.
To learn more about volunteer firefighting and how you can help your local department you can visit www.recruitny.org.