By Jann Wiswall
Every single citizen in the U.S. counts on firefighters and first responders to be there — just in case — every single day. Even if you’ve never called for help yourself, most likely you know someone who has.
In some places, fire departments have paid staff, but in most areas, fire department members are volunteers who donate many, many hours to train and respond to emergencies. And there are never enough volunteers, especially in rural, sparsely populated areas.
If you’ve ever thought about volunteering, or if your spouse or son or daughter has, this Saturday is your chance to learn more.
The Ellicottville Fire Department is hosting an open house as part of the Recruit NY program. Its purpose is to educate people of all ages about firefighting, encourage folks to volunteer and have a little fun in the process.
It all starts at the Fire Hall (30 Fillmore Drive) on Saturday, April 23 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
During the day, you and your family can learn about volunteering, take part in CPR and fire extinguisher demonstrations and pick up some fire prevention and safety tips. Kids can take a ride on a fire truck, try on some gear and snag some fun treats.
Members of the department also will be there to answer questions you might have about what it means to be a volunteer and will explain that you don’t have to physically fight fires in order to be of help. In fact, EFD member Glenda Jackson notes that, like her, there are many people who “take on all sorts of roles you may not have even thought about — from driving trucks, directing traffic and handling hoses, to changing air tanks, distributing drinking water and restocking supplies. There’s a lot going on during a fire or accident call and people are needed to help in many ways.”
In addition, leaders of the EFD Explorer Post 652 will be on hand to provide information about this program for boys and girls ages 13-15.
The Explorer Post was established last year in part to address the severe shortage of fire department volunteers, especially younger volunteers who can take the place of those who will be retiring in the next few years. Teens ages 16 and older may join the department as full-fledged members.
With a recent donation from the Ellicottville Rotary Club to help purchase gear for the Explorers, there’s no time like the present to get your budding firefighters involved.
To make it all even more exciting, WGWE radio 105.9 will be doing a live broadcast from the fire hall from 1-3 p.m. The first 20 people who arrive to the fire hall that day will receive free smoke detectors! And, for a $9 donation, you’ll be able to dine on delicious Wendel’s BBQ Chicken with all the trimmings. Proceeds from the sale of the chicken meals will go toward the purchase of training equipment.
Sponsors for this year’s event include The City Garage, Dina’s, The Gin Mill, Madigan’s and Villaggio.
If you can’t make it to the open house but are interested in learning more about joining, stop by the fire hall any Tuesday evening from 6:30-8 p.m. when volunteers gather for a work night. No advance notice is needed.