(WKBW release) Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined Monday by firefighters from local districts as well as the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York to bolster volunteer recruitment efforts and kindle interest in community service.
According to a news release:
The “Volunteer NY” campaign, promoted by FASNY to encourage volunteer fire departments to host an open house in their community on April 21-22, has been spotlighted by an outdoor advertising push aimed at increasing awareness and boosting volunteerism. Across Erie County, 55 billboards are in place to call attention to the upcoming open house events, with 30 Erie County volunteer fire departments currently scheduled to participate in these events.
“Today we gather to salute the men and women serving as volunteer firefighters, and send out a call for others to join their ranks in protecting and serving their communities,” said Poloncarz. “As I noted in my Comptroller’s report on the cost of volunteer fire departments, unfortunately fewer individuals are volunteering for this important community service. The importance of the job they do can never be over-emphasized, their dedication is an inspiration to others, and their selfless commitment is a testament to their departments. Our community needs a strong base of volunteers to sustain the current system. I encourage any resident who’s thinking of getting involved to join them and be a part of something that benefits all of Erie County.”
The billboard campaign is part of a larger overall effort based on a $498,800 U.S. Department of Homeland Security Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (“SAFER”) grant secured in partnership with the Erie County Fire Chiefs Mutual Aid Organization. The state-wide recruitment effort, working in conjunction with National Volunteer Week, invites participating volunteer fire districts to throw open their doors next weekend to let community members learn more about their local fire department. Local departments will host tours, allow visitors to try on turnout gear and inspect firefighting apparatus, and provide visitor activities. Information will be available on recruitment, youth programs, and the many types of volunteer opportunities open to interested visitors.
“We estimate that we have a population of some 5,000 plus volunteer firefighters in 94 volunteer fire departments across Erie County,” said Daniel Neaverth, Jr., Erie County Commissioner of Emergency Services. “Historically, we consistently attract 400 to 500 new recruits a year and our goal for implementing this campaign is to increase that number to 600 new recruits per year through the performance period of the grant, which runs through April 2013.”
Erie County residents interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities at their local fire departments are encouraged to visit www.erieCountyFIRE.com, www.ErieCountyFIRE.org, or www.iVolunteerFIRE.org for more information.