LAKEWOOD – Towards the end of April, hundreds of Fire Departments across New York are opening their doors to the public, looking for new volunteers that would like to give back to the community.
Ben Troche Firefighter and EMT at the Lakewood Fire Department, is gearing up for the Saturday, April 23rd event.
“As the years progress it’s harder and harder to find volunteers,” Troche explains. “Calls have come up, and people have just become busier with jobs and work life balance, so it’s putting a strain on our 911 system because fewer volunteers with more calls is a recipe for disaster.”
Services provided by department’s like Lakewood’s are critical, Torche says.
“Every community in this County and State as a whole are struggling for volunteers,” stated Troche.
Anyone over the age of 17 can join the department, after filling out a few forms and being approved. Troche tells us that the department will provide all training needed for new firefighters and EMTs.
“We’re looking for pretty much anyone,” explained Troche. “You don’t need any experience, if you have experience that’s a bonus. If you just want to do EMS that’s okay, if you just want to do fire that’s okay.”
There are many benefits that come with joining the department, from use of personal weight rooms and training facilities, to financial relief, to use of the department owned baseball field.
“It’s really one big family, it’s another benefit, you get to meet a lot of people,” stated Troche. “Learn a lot of experiences and go through those, and really develop more as a person and learn what it takes to work as a team and get a task accomplished.”
Those interested in learning more are encouraged to stop down to the Fire Department, and give it a chance.
“Come see what it’s like at the station,” explained Troche. “It might surprise you if you think it’s not for you, it wasn’t for me four years ago.”
The Lakewood Fire Department is not the only local agency to hold this event, with hundreds of stations taking part across the state, 16 of them are from the Chautauqua County region.
The recruitment event will be held Saturday, April 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for more information, and to find a local department near you, visit recruitny.org.