As part of New York State’s RecruitNY initiative, the Port Fire Department invited residents to the firehouse
On Saturday, April 23, the Port Washington Fire Department hosted a recruitment open house at the Flower Hill Hose Company No. 1 on Haven Avenue. The recruitment open house is part of the annual RecruitNY statewide initiative that started in 2011.
RecruitNY was formed by the Firefighter Association of the State of New York, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, the Association of Fire Districts of New York State, the Volunteer Fire Police Association of the State of New York, and County Fire Coordinators Association of the State of New York.
The Firefighter Association of the State of New York has built and deployed the detailed plan of RecruitNY to help New York State’s 17000-plus volunteer fire departments recruit thousands of volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel.
“Due to COVID-19, this is the first time in the last two years that the event was held,” said Chief of Department Brian Waterson. “The Port Washington Fire Department has participated several years before 2020.”
“This was an excellent opportunity for people to meet their local volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel and learn more about the fire service,” said Cheif Waterson. “Volunteer firefighters/EMTs are everyday heroes who dedicate their spare time to helping people in their times of need. We are always looking for new members. We hope that after seeing the incredible camaraderie of the firehouse up close, more people will be interested in becoming a part of our very special family.”
Volunteer fire departments across New York State have struggled with decreased membership for several years. The RecruitNY initiative provides an opportunity to present the responsibilities and rewards of being a volunteer firefighter or EMT while raising public awareness about the need for volunteers. According to a press release from the Port Washington Fire Department, more than 250 fire departments across New York State held recruitment open houses last year.
The Port Washington Fire Department is lucky to have a solid group of volunteers working with them steadily each year.
“Every year, the Port Washington Fire Department has members resign at the same time that the department gets a new member,” said Chief Waterson. “We break even or come out with new members each year.”
“This event wasn’t as well as attended as we hoped but we hope that the ones that did visit learned more about the volunteer fire department,” said Chief Waterson. “I would say approximately 50 people attended, most between the age of 30 to 50 years old. There were a few that have requested more information on joining as well as some teenagers interested in our juniors program.”
The Port Washington Fire Department planned tours of the firehouse and equipment at the recruitment open house. The members provided information for visitors to learn more about the opportunities open to volunteers, the requirements to become a volunteer and answer questions.
“Attendees were allowed to tour the building; however, most were more interested in the trucks and equipment,” said Chief Waterson. “There was also a demonstration on how firefighters cut a car to remove entangled victims. Handouts with various fire prevention tips, tot-finders, phone stickers and other promotional items were given out.”
Although the Port Washington Fire Department expected a larger turn-out, the event successfully raised public awareness of the need for volunteers and taught residents about the hard work the Fire Department does to keep the town safe.
“Several people had provided their contact info for us to contact them to get additional information on joining,” said Chief Waterson.
Anyone interested in joining the department as a firefighter, EMT, or junior can file an online form on their website www.pwfd.com.