The annual push to get people to join the volunteer fire service is set for this weekend, and local fire officials want to get the word out to encourage people to stop by the open houses that are planned.
More than 300 fire departments are participating in the statewide “RecruitNY” event, which is put on each year by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY). Ten volunteer fire departments in Oneida County are participating in RecruitNY, along with two volunteer fire departments in Herkimer County and three volunteer fire departments in Otsego County.
Statistics show that between the 1980’s and 2011, the volunteer fire service throughout the state has dwindled by about 85,000 members.
A report by FASNY in 2016 found that the annual cost of a replacement all-paid fire service would be $3.87 billion, causing property taxes in New York to rise by more than 26 percent.
On Tuesday morning NEWSChannel 2 caught up with Dave Jacobowitz, a former chief of the Whitesboro Fire Department who also previously served as president of FASNY. He says that for whatever reason, younger people aren’t getting involved like they used to.
"People don't want to volunteer, and it's not just for being a volunteer, it's in the other groups like Kiwanis, Rotarians and so forth," Jacobowitz said. "It’s trying to get people to come in and give back to their community. Some do a lot and do a great job; some would rather be fishing, I guess.”
Here is a list of the local fire departments participating in the RecruitNY initiative and hosting open houses this weekend:
Floyd Fire Department – 8367 Old Floyd Rd., Floyd
Oriskany Fire Department – 708 Utica St., Oriskany
Western Fire Department – 9305 State Rt. 46, Westernville
Westmoreland Fire Department – 101 Station Rd., Westmoreland
Whitesboro Fire Department – 171 Oriskany Blvd., Whitesboro
Woodgate Fire Department – 12445 State Rt. 28, Woodgate
Frankfort Fire Department – 158 St. Litchfield St., Frankfort
Frankfort Hill Fire Department – 2235 Albany Rd., Frankfort
Unadilla Fire Department – 77 Clifton St., Unadilla
West Laurens Fire Department – 2766 State Rt. 23, West Laurens
West Oneonta Fire Department – 2865 County Highway 8, West Oneonta
Clayville Fire Department – 2371 Main St., Clayville
Durhamville Fire Department – 5305 Church St., Durhamville
New Hartford Fire Department – 4 Oxford Rd., New H artford
Otter Lake Fire Department – 13853 State Rt. 28, Otter Lake
For the full list of participating departments statewide, click here.