Fire departments open their station doors to spark an interest in volunteering.
Is there a fire in you? That’s the question fire departments across the state are asking community members during RecruitNY 2017 this weekend.
On Saturday, participating firefighters opened their doors and rolled out their trucks, tools and turnout gear to hopefully spark the interest of future firefighters.
In Farmington, while smoke billowed from barbecued chickens on the department’s massive new grill, 20-year-old volunteer firefighter Nick Paddock donned his heavy gear, an air tank and a face mask for children looking on.
“I’ve been around this department my whole life,” said Paddock, who formally joined the Farmington Volunteer Fire Association when he was 16. “This department has been part of my family, and to me, it is a second family. We go through everything together. We’ve seen some scary stuff, but we’re family.”
Volunteer firefighter Aaron Sweeney urged community members to “come on down any Monday night” to the Hook Road fire station.
“We’re always here,” he said. “Watch some training, pick up an application, and any questions you have, we’d be happy to answer.”
Meanwhile, just down the road on Route 96, Victor firefighters talked about what it takes to keep a volunteer fire department growing and developing.
Glenn Lockwood, 66, said proudly he’s Victor’s second oldest active firefighter. He served as fire chief from 1980 to 1985, and was in charge the night of the infamous Malone Block fire in 1981, which destroyed three interconnected buildings.
Lockwood also served as assistant chief of the Fishers Fire Department for a time as well.
“I’m back enjoying this all over again,” said Lockwood. “It’s just a great experience. I don’t know how to express how much fun it is. I guess you’ve got to come and be here to really know. This is my football, this is my baseball, this is my thing.”
When Victor volunteer firefighter Bob Green was just 5 years old, he used to ride on the fire truck with his dad in the middle of the night. It whet an appetite that has never been quenched.
“It’s great to be part of a family, and this is kind of your extended family,” said Green. “We try to build people up around here.”
He spoke proudly of the Victor volunteers who have gone on to become career firefighters in Fishers, in North Carolina, and who’ve gone on to the Air Force and the military as firefighters.
“The thing is,” said Green, “we really relish that they have moved on, but still know where they got their basics — pride, honor and integrity — right here in Victor.”
Lockwood looked around the fire station on Saturday and said he feels fortunate.
“Here today we have four past chiefs — and we’re all still active,” he said. “There’s a lot of departments around that once you become chief, it takes so much out of you that you kind of just (stop volunteering).”
Most volunteers already work 40 hours a week, and volunteering is like having another part-time job, said Green.
“But we make it work, and our families help make it work,” he said. “We understand community, and how it works. There needs to be give within a community. Everybody gives a little part back to the community, and this is our part that we give back.”