New York needs more volunteer firefighters and first responders, and on April 25 and 26, fire departments across the state will open their doors and welcome the community.
Whether their house is on fire, a hurricane has flooded their basement or a loved one is experiencing a medical emergency, countless New Yorkers rely upon their neighbors to answer the call. There are thousands of volunteer firefighters in New York State who stand ready, and these brave men and women are proud to help their fellow citizens in times of need.
Volunteer firefighters are just that: volunteers. These dedicated individuals provide critical, lifesaving services to their communities on their own time, without pay. Statewide studies show that providing these services on a volunteer basis saves New Yorkers roughly $2.8 billion in salaries and benefits, equipment, and general operations costs every year.
They are your local small business owners, police officers, students, and computer programmers. They live down the street, around the corner and up the block…simply put, volunteer firefighters are neighbors helping neighbors. And together, we are looking for some more neighbors to help us out.
New York’s statewide recruitment event, RecruitNY, is fast approaching. On April 25 and 26, fire departments across the state will open their doors and welcome the community. Volunteer firefighters will be on hand to show their neighbors and friends what it means to be a first responder. They will conduct tours, provide equipment demonstrations and will be available to discuss what it means to be a volunteer firefighter.
The stark truth is we need more volunteers. The number of volunteer firefighters has been dropping precipitously over the past several years, and this is happening during a time when firefighting is evolving into something more challenging than before. In a post 9/11 world, and an environment where we face “generational storms” much more frequently, the men and women of the fire service require far more training and specialized skills than in the past. Today’s firefighters are responding to more emergencies every year.
Growing responsibilities and escalating challenges faced by volunteer fire departments have stretched resources ever thinner; more volunteers are needed to help staff New York’s firehouses. Our brave volunteers provide an invaluable and cost-effective service to their neighbors and their communities, but they cannot do it alone.
Come on down to your local firehouse during the RecruitNY weekend. Hundreds of fire departments will be participating: visit www.recruitny.org to see which one is closest to you. Visit your neighbors who dedicate so much of their time and their lives to making your community a safer place. You might even decide to join us.
At the very least, you’ll go home with a renewed sense of appreciation and understanding of the tremendous service that these dedicated individuals provide.
Editor’s Note: Robert McConville is President of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), a 32-year member of the Selden, Long Island, Fire Department and a veteran Suffolk County Fire Official and EMT.