Volunteers Needed To Battle Fires

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Fire crews in the north country often call for back-up.

Sometimes it happens even before they reach the scene of a blaze.

Why?

The need for manpower.

"It's crucial in any rural fire to get your neighboring departments to come and help. Especially hauling water, manpower is short for all the departments now," said Cape Vincent Fire Chief Bill Gould.

To increase numbers, volunteer departments across the state will be opening their doors this weekend for 'Volunteer NY.'

"Anybody that's interested in fire service is welcome to stop in, maybe learn a little bit more and if they want to apply, they can fill out an application," said Glen Park Fire Chief Ralph Skinner.

Some departments are down to a record low of volunteers.

"Earlier, years ago, we could put 30 people on a fire grounds. Today at evenings, or nighttime, we get 10 to 15," said Skinner.

That number could be as low as 4 or 5 for fires in the day.

So why don't more people volunteer?

A big reason is time.

It takes 90 hours of training to be able to fight fires.

"It does take some time commitments, but they're very well rewarding commitments," said Jefferson County Fire Coordinator Joe Plummer.

So you want to volunteer, but running into a burning building isn't your thing?

Don't worry, officials say there's still a spot for you.

"We could buy everything we needed.  If we don't have the people to go operate that equipment, it's not going to do us any good," said Plummer.

The doors close on the open houses Sunday, but officials say they'll gladly accept volunteers anytime.

Thursday, April 24, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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