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Fire Departments hope to get more recruits through statewide recruitment drive

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A drop in volunteer firefighters affects many communities across our nation and recruiting new volunteers is not getting easier.

There is a push to increase the number of volunteers all across New York. Several departments will be a part of Recruit N.Y.  The initiative is a state-wide recruitment drive that looks to bolster the number of volunteer firefighters throughout the state.

The West Elmira Volunteer Fire Department is one of the local departments participating in the campaign. Chief John VonHagn said “there’s always a job for a volunteer firefighter.”

Volunteers will be provided with a uniform and equipment. 

His department is hosting an open house on April 28 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. The event will allow residents to meet the firefighters, tour the station, and see the equipment.

“Becoming a volunteer firefighter is a great honor and tradition,” VonHagn said. “Being the first to respond in an emergency, a disaster, a tragedy, or even a terroristic event, you volunteer to serve your community and be part of that fellowship of the fire service.”

The Bath Volunteer Fire Department also knows the impacts of decreasing volunteers.

Chris Kinsella, the department’s captain, said it’s trying to increase its current pool of 50 volunteers but says life obstacles can make it hard for volunteers.

“That’s because it’s the nature of the beast right now with everyone having to work jobs during the day, it’s really hard,” Kinsella said. “All the training requirements, it makes it tough to get new people in.”

The Bath Volunteer Fire Department will have an open house on both April 27 and April 28 complete with fire truck rides, car extricating demonstrations and burning-building demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kinsella said you do not need to wait until then to join. He encourages anyone interested in firefighting to join their local fire department.

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