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“Youth Day” encourages young volunteers to join North Country fire departments

Published: Aug. 28, 2021 at 5:49 PM EDT
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WEST POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - Growing up, you’re parents probably told you don’t play with fire.

But these fire department recruits are at the Saint Lawrence County Fire Training Center to do just that.

“At one time we had roughly 130 thousand volunteers in New York State. Now, we have less than 100 thousand. Closer to 80 [thousand] actually,” said Joseph Finnegan.

Finnegan is with the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York, or FASNY for short.

The organization’s Youth Day is trying to boost those volunteer numbers. More than 30 recruits from 4 north country counties came to participate.

Among them, Haedyn Farnsworth from Tupper Lake.

“I honestly thought that it would be one or two little stations, nope. This has blown my expectations out of the water,” said Farnsworth.

The recruits get first hand experience in things like hose stretch, where they work together to carry a hose up a three story building, and open the line at the top.

“Being hands on and everything, you learn your strengths and your weaknesses and it helps learn, you learn your limits,” said Megan Hawley of the Colton Fire Department.

“You don’t usually always have time to do training with your fire department, so it’s always nice because here you get basically the rundown of everything you need to know,” said Emily Ghenon of the Morristown Fire Department.

This is the first time that FASNY has held a training like this above the Syracuse area, giving kids in the North Country a chance to gain valuable experience that officials hope they will use in their tenure as volunteers.

“Their going to learn some stuff here today that’s going to stick with them, not only how to do stuff in the fire service but true life, you know? Even outside at home, they are going to learn some stuff that they are going to carry with them for the rest of their life,” said St. Lawrence County Emergency Service Director Matthew Denner.

Denner also hopes this is another recruitment tool as these young, aspiring firefighters go back and telling their friends what they learned, so more youth becoming interested in volunteering.

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