Niagara Gazette — Whether it’s a ride on a fire truck or the spectacle of a more than 100-foot long ladder shooting into the sky, the St. Johnsburg Fire Company is looking to inspire a new group of volunteers.
“People see that and they think, maybe (being a volunteer firefighters) is for me,” St. Johnsburgh Fire Capt. Nick Tavano said. “Whatever works (to recruit new members) we’ll try it.”
Tavano and many of his fellow firefighters gave up their Sunday afternoon to open their hall to local residents as part of the fourth annual RecruitNY initiative. The goal of the open program is to swell the ranks of volunteer firefighters across New York state.
“We’ve had a steady stream of people coming in today,” Tavano said. “We’ve been giving demonstrations, showing them the trucks and the equipment.”
While a climb up St. Johnsburg’s 105-foot ladder truck was not available, a ride on one of their pumpers was. A truck carrying a load of visitors pulled out from in front of the fire hall with a blast of its siren and its lights flashing.
“(The open house) has helped us a lot,” Tavano said. “It’s very important (for recruiting). We get a few applicants, if we get two or three (new) people, that’s huge. It’s much better than not having the open house.”
With about 150 members at the moment, 45 of whom are active firefighters, St. Johnsburg is eager to welcome newcomers to the ranks. By mid-day Sunday, they had one new application and a second potential volunteer was checking out the fire hall.
“This is a good way to get out to the public and tell them we’re open for business and looking for members,” Tavano said.
Leaders in the volunteer fire service say that the recruitment of new members has been challenging in recent years. They cite a tendency by many potential volunteers to have to work multiple jobs as a reason why people don’t have the time to join up.