BUFFALO, NY (WKBW)
I spent some time this week at the Frontier Volunteer Fire Company in Wheatfield to talk with the firefighters about a new statewide recruitment effort. The number of volunteer firefighters across the state has dropped about ten percent over the last few years. That drop is blamed largely on the economy.
"Both parents are working, day care costs, and the time requirements," explains Frontier Fire Chief Bruce Mack about the reasons why the volunteer numbers are down.
Communities though rely on those volunteers, perhaps even more than most people realize. Of the 90-plus fire companies across Western New York, all are volunteer except three.
"More than likely it's going to be a volunteer fire department coming to your aid to help you," says Jonathan Schultz, "It's going to be one of your neighbors getting up and out of bed in 30 degree weather coming over to give you a hand."
While my photographer and I were at the Frontier firehouse, a couple of the firefighters had to rush out on an EMT call. There's more to this job than just fighting fires.
"Natural disasters in the community like the october storm and things like that. We also help out throughout the state, like the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. Units from this area, Niagara and Orleans county were sent to help out downstate," says Mack.
Volunteer firefighters certainly aren't in it for the money, but they get something money can't buy.
"I've been a volunteer myself for over 20 years and the reward is going out and helping your neighbors in their greatest time of need," says Schultz.
The firefighters invite you to check it all out for yourself. Open house weekend at volunteer firehouses across Western New York is April 27th and 28th.