CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) — First responders across the Capital Region are grappling with staffing shortages across the board and that’s something volunteer fire departments are taking to heart. “Volunteerism in the emergency services is at its all-time low statewide so you got to come up with new ideas on how you can recruit people to the fire service,” Art Hunsinger, former Chief of the Clifton Park Fire Department, said. “The other thing is, there’s a job for everyone in the fire service, you don’t have to be the person running inside, there’s a whole bunch of different jobs that we need people for.”

The Clifton Park Fire Department held a first-ever volunteer firefighter recruitment event with neighboring mutual aid departments in the Capital Region to help recruit new members. Participants got the chance to see how it could feel to save lives — trying their hands at putting out car fires and operating the jaws of life.  “This gives them the opportunity if they’ve ever thought about it, but are on the fence, to give them a hands-on opportunity in our conditions to see if it’s something they can do,” Hunsinger said.

Hunsinger said volunteer applicants ebb and flow throughout the year and they’re trying to help people realize volunteerism can be modified to fit your schedule. Most importantly, Hunsinger said the October 1 event helps people experience firsthand what it means to help your community.,“It’s a passion for providing what is a very valuable and important service to the community, it’s not an option to have firefighters, it’s a necessity to have firefighters,” Hunsinger said. If you are interested in applying to become a volunteer firefighter, you can contact your local fire department.