It is a common trend in communities across the state: volunteer fire departments are seeing a drastic decline in the number of volunteers. In response, fire departments across Chenango County are preparing for RecruitNY - two days of special events to entice men and women in the area to lend a helping hand.
“The number of volunteers is low across the board for fire and EMS,” explained Chenango County Deputy Fire Coordinator Michael Beckwith. “There are a lot of departments in this area that are now operating with four or five volunteers and that’s it. And many of those districts don’t have anyone available during the day.”
The shortage of volunteers has forced departments to rely more and more on mutual aid from surrounding fire districts with every incoming call. This not only poses a threat in regards to response times, Beckwith explained, but also to the very existence of community-based fire departments.