LANCASTER- The Lancaster Fire Department will open its doors to area residents, so they can learn about what it takes to be a volunteer firefighter in their community, as part of the fourth annual “RecruitNY” statewide initiative.
Over the last several years, it has been very tough for many fire departments throughout New York State to recruit and retain volunteers for a range of reasons. However, Recruitment Chairman for the Lancaster Fire Department, Cindy Moore said the department has been able to sustain their membership by understanding that people have lives outside of the fire department and cannot dedicate 100 percent of their time.
“We make sure that everyone feels comfortable with the amount of time that they are able to donate to the fire service, while meeting the requirements of the department,” remarked Moore. “Lancaster has also had good success with recruitment events such as this one. Although we have not had a decline in membership, we always are looking for new members to continue to build our department.”
Currently, the department consists of 120 volunteer firefighters, but only 80 of them are active. Just last year alone, firefighters responded to more than 250 calls, which is the average number of calls the department responds too yearly, however, it does fluctuate year-to-year.
Last year, six new members joined the department during this recruitment event, and Moore said if 10 people decide to join the department this year it would be a great success for them.
The recruitment event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 27, behind the Lancaster Municipal Building, located at 5423 Broadway. This event is open to the public, and all ages are welcome, but it is targeted at recruiting new members to join the department, so it can continue to provide the best level of protection for its residents
The department will offer a variety of hands-on events including, working with auto extrication tools, navigating through a maze on your hands and knees to simulate searching through a smoke filled building, spraying water with the fire hose, trying on the turnout gear, and wearing an airpack and moving though an obstacle course, said Moore.
In addition to hands-on events, there will also be firefighter demonstrations including, ventilating a roof with various tools and climbing on the ladder of the department’s ladder truck.
The day will also showcase a variety of the department’s groups, such as the Explorer Post #333, which is like being a junior firefighter; Cadence Corps, which provide music for parades; Ladies Auxiliary, which aids the firefighters during strenuous fire calls and helps with social events; Fire Police, which help to control traffic during fire calls and special events; and Pistol Club.
“If you aren’t sure if firefighting is for you, but would like to become involved with the Lancaster Fire Department, we have positions for anyone who is interested. Just come out to our event and speak with any of the members,” said Moore.
Residents who come to the event can also go on a tour of the fire hall.
“The goal of this event is to hopefully inspire members of the community to join the Lancaster Fire Department, to help us increase our membership, and give us an improved ability to better serve the residents of the Village of Lancaster,” remarked Moore.
The requirements to become a member of the Lancaster Fire Department include being a resident of the Village of Lancaster, or within a two-mile radius, and at least 14 years of age to be an explorer and 18 to be a firefighter.
“Helping your neighbors and community gives you a feeling of accomplishment and pride,” said Moore. “In addition to doing the typical firefighting stuff, we also hold community outreach events such as a canned food drive, Fill the Boot for Variety Club Telethon, and assist in fire prevention at the Fire Safety Day.”
Food and refreshments will be served free of charge throughout the day.
“The Lancaster Fire Department is a very family friendly organization, where the members are encouraged to bring their families around to events and to hang out at the fire hall,” Moore said. “In fact, the Lancaster Fire Department has many different families with multi-generational members. Due to this family atmosphere, the Lancaster Fire Department is truly one big family.”
For more information call Moore at 868-5851.