Albany, N.Y., April 6—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats) reminded area residents today that a number of the region’s volunteer fire departments will hold Open Houses this weekend as part of “Recruit NY,” a statewide initiative sponsored by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), the state Association of Fire Chiefs and others to encourage the recruitment of local volunteer firefighters and EMTs.
The event was coordinated by FASNY to coincide with National Volunteer Week from April 10-16.
"The challenge of recruiting volunteer firefighters and EMTs, especially in our rural, upstate communities, deserves all of the attention it gets,” said O’Mara. “It’s an issue that we need to keep working on.”
According to FASNY, the number of volunteer firefighters statewide has declined from 140,000 in the early 1990s to less than 90,000 today. Volunteer emergency medical technicians (EMTs) experienced a decline from more than 50,000 to 35,000 during the same period, with some rural counties experiencing as much as a 50-percent depletion of their EMT ranks.
FASNY has also estimated that it would cost local taxpayers more than $5 billion annually to replace volunteers with paid fire and ambulance services.
O’Mara, who has sponsored legislation in the past to address the challenge, praised the Recruit NY effort.
Anyone interested in whether a Recruit NY open house is being held in their community should contact their local department.