Local volunteer fire companies are always looking to bolster their rankings.
Seven of them in Niagara County will open their doors next weekend to participate in the Fire Association of the State of New York recruitment drive as part of National Volunteer Week, April 15 – 21.
Area residents can learn about what it takes to be a volunteer firefighter in their community and how new recruits can benefit from a state-funded tuition reimbursement program for full or part-time students.
Recruit New York will highlight the duties and rewards that come from being a volunteer firefighter and raise public awareness about the need for volunteers. The hope is that a collaborative effort among volunteer fire departments statewide will help increase the number of volunteer firefighters.
On April 21, Barker, Bergholz, Frontier, Terry’s Corners and Gasport will have doors open. And on April 22, Cambria and South Lockport will follow suit. The St. Johnsburg Fire Co. in North Tonawanda will be open both days, while Tri-Community Ambulance Service will participate on Saturday.
The South Lockport Fire Co. will open its doors at the 5666 Transit Road site as part of this unified effort on April 22 from noon until 5 p.m. South Lockport plans demonstrations on auto extrication techniques and live fire extinguishing. The Niagara County Sheriffs Department will have the K-9 Unit. Mercy Flight will also be on hand.The Masonic Lodge will have blood pressure checks and a Child Identification Program.
South Lockport handled nearly 3,000 calls in 2011 and as of Tuesday had 402 calls this year. It is one of the busiest fire companies in Niagara County, according to Chief William Hockenberry, a national paramedic with Mercy Flight.
South Lockport has 52 active members. “We can always us volunteer firefighters at any. It makes the job easier and safer,” said Assistant Chief Jonathan McKnight. McKnight is the first vice president of the Niagara County Volunteer Firemen’s Association.
Men and women 18-years of age and older are eligible. Students are eligible for FASNY college assistance. “For those looking to go to college, it’s a great thing to go into,” McKnight said.
Firefighters learn the basics and take some state mandated courses. They are eligible to get further training the state offers.
Volunteers can offer the highest level of care you can get out of a hospital, McKnight said.
There are diverse jobs. Volunteers can be drivers, pump operators, emergency medical technicians and interior firefighters.
Terry’s Corners is looking forward to showing off its improvements on April 21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Chestnut Ridge Hall has a larger, safer truck bay and a new work-out facility. The conference room can be used for training and meetings.
Terry’s Corners plans safety demonstration and a American Red Cross blood drive from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
The National Volunteer Week signage was created using a photo taken by Stephen M. Wallace, contributing photographer for the Union-Sun & Journal and former volunteer firefighter.