CHENANGO COUNTY – A number of Chenango fire departments will open their doors to the public this weekend as part of their participation in the Firemen’s Association of New York State’s annual RecruitNY event. Aimed at boosting volunteerism statewide, the recruitment-based open house event is an opportunity to learn more about their local fire department and how they can lend a helping hand.
According to Deputy Fire Coordinator Michael Beckwith, volunteer numbers are down across the county, in some cases upwards of 15 to 20 percent. As such, promoting volunteer fire service and recruiting new members has never been more important.
Said Beckwith, “It is absolutely a problem right now and volunteerism across the board – firefighters, EMS providers, auxiliary members, even Explorer Posts (through the Boy Scouts of America) – is down. We need to get people to realize that it’s more than just going into burning buildings ... I think people misinterpret that sometimes.”
And while that doesn’t necessarily mean less training, admitted Beckwith, it does mean a different kind of training. A volunteer driver, for example, frees up full-time, interior firefighters to do what they do best: fight fires. Additional volunteers in any emergency situation are vital to the success of area fire departments, he added, particularly when you consider the many different aspects of emergency service.
The following fire departments will host open houses this weekend:
• Afton Fire Department, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 15 Spring St., Afton. Breakfast, demonstrations and chicken barbecue will be offered.
• Bainbridge Fire Department, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, 22 West Main St., Bainbridge. Chicken barbecue begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday...