CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) – With this year’s RecruitNY event coming up this weekend, local volunteer fire departments are making a push to get more recruits in the door.
“Recruit New York is one of those things we do annually that sends a message out statewide at the same time of our needs in the volunteer service,” said Art Hunsinger, past chief for the Clifton Park Fire Department.
This year’s RecruitNY event comes as the number of volunteer recruits has continued to diminish across the state.
“Back in the early 2000s we had about 120,000 men and women across the state of New York that provided volunteer fire and emergency response. Today we’re somewhere in the 80-85,000 range,” says John D’Alessandro, secretary for the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York.
That drop in numbers has had an impact locally.
“It’s been like a roller coaster here for us. We bring in some people and then we lose some people,” Hunsinger said.
“Puts geometrically increasing stress on the people who are volunteers. Let’s face it, when a citizen calls 911, we’re going to go, doesn’t matter if there’s 10 of us or two of us, we’re going to go,” D’Alessandro added.
While volunteers say they don’t do it for the recognition, the work they do is extremely rewarding.
“When we help a neighbor, and get them through that crisis, it’s a feeling like nothing else you’ll experience in life. Almost like I could describe a father watching their baby be born for the first time,” Hunsinger explained.
Ahead of this weekend’s event, they’re encouraging everyone in their communities to consider joining.
“We’re volunteers, we could use your help, and there’s a job for everybody,” said Hunsinger.
Some departments are holding RecruitNY events in-person this weekend, while others are opting to stay virtual.