Updated 04/17/2012 04:07 PM
Fire departments looking for volunteers through Recruit NY campaign
If you've ever thought about becoming a firefighter, now is your chance to act. Volunteer firehouses in our area are in desperate need of recruits. They will soon be opening their doors to show people what it's like to be a firefighter. Our Megan Cruz found out if she has what it takes.
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HALFMOON, N.Y. -- "The feeling when that pager goes off, and the siren goes off, and I come into the firehouse, get my gear on, and get on the truck, it's a feeling like no other," said Evan D'Alessandro.
Evan D'Alessandro, 18, knew he wanted to be a volunteer firefighter, despite the sacrifices.
"You're here three, four, five days a week, whether you're on calls, whether you're out training, learning more material," he said.
Problem is, in recent years, less are willing to wear the hat.
"Around a decade ago, there was probably a little more than 100,000 volunteer firefighters in the State of New York. We're presently down to 88,000," said John D'Alessandro, the Deputy Volunteer Programs Coordinator for the Fireman's Association for the State of New York. "It's not a crisis situation yet, but before it gets to that point, we wanted to try to hit it head on."
Hence, the second annual Recruit NY weekend. On April 21st and 22nd, fire departments across the state will give prospective firefighters a feel for the hot seat.
"They can do everything from sit in the apparatus to putting the equipment on, we'll let them pull some hose, spray some water," he said.
But first, you have to gear up, and I thought while here, why not see if I have what it takes to be a firefighter?
D'Alessandro said one of the most important things is learning how to get your gear on correctly in under two minutes. Once all on - the hat, mask, gloves, jacket, pants, boots, and air mask - a person is now carrying an extra 65 pounds. D'Alessandro said this is kind of an ah-ha moment for people.
"You have to be relatively comfortable having that kind of bulkiness and weight on you before you even start to work!" said D'Alessandro. "Even something as simple as getting on and off the fire truck. With all that gear on, it's not the easiest thing all the time."
"And this would be one of their first jobs, to help pull off the hose," said Halfmoon-Waterford Fire Commissioner Earl McMahon.
"Heavy!" I said.
Only a half hour of this mock-training, I've decided not to quit my day job. But the D'Alessandros hope others come to a different conclusion this weekend.
"I don't do it to get to ride in a big truck; I do it because I get to help people," said Evan.