CHENANGO COUNTY – Seven area fire departments will host open houses this weekend as part of a state-wide volunteer recruitment program lead by New York State's RecruitNY.
The times for each open house vary, and more information about the events can be found at recruitny.org/participation-area/ and are listed below.
According to City of Norwich Fire Chief Jan Papelino, this is a statewide event dedicated towards fire department recruitment, and it has been occurring for several years.
"Volunteerism is down and events like these allow us to actively reach out to individuals who want to help their community," said Papelino. "I don't think there's a department in Chenango County who couldn't use more volunteers right now, everyone is hurting for members."
He said at the Norwich Fire Department's open house, they'll have several items available for individuals for look at including turnout gear, jaws of life, hoses, airpacks, and fire trucks. He added that those who do end up signing up have the ability to receive free training and a $200 tax credit through New York State.
"It's a great opportunity to learn a lot of new things, take part in the fire service, help friends and family in a time of need, and you can put as much into it as you want," said Papelino. "We do have active training and physical requirements that individuals have to meet as well."
Those who are interested in receiving training for a full time job down the road will also benefit from becoming a volunteer, he said.
"You can take various medical courses for free including classes to become a EMT or paramedic," said Papelino. "Those free courses can lead to a position where you're making $25 an hour for ambulance services throughout the county."