Task force and technical school plan to team up to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters

PLATTSBURGH, NY (WCAX) – The area’s volunteer fire departments are in desperate need of new recruits. A task force in New York is looking for solutions and a local tech school wants to be part of it.

It takes a lot to become a firefighter in New York: mental and physical exams in addition to hours of training, both on the job and in the classroom.

Requirements vary by department, but the New York State Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment and Retention Task Force aims to get future firefighters to start all this work sooner.

“Getting into technical schools and being able to start Firefighter 1 training at an earlier age,” said Art Bill Streicher of the Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment and Retention Task Force.

One of the solutions proposed in the group’s latest call was to team up with all 37 vocational and technical schools in the state, which sparked the interest of CV-TEC in Plattsburgh.

“Absolutely, we all know how crucial these services are, especially in our region,” said Michele Friedman, director of vocational and technical training at CV-TEC.

The school says that creating a brand new program can take some time and that it would need to meet certain requirements set by the state department of education.

Friedman says they could help start the conversation with other community partners to see what options exist to meet the need.

“We know what our strengths and those of our partner agencies are and we sit down together and find a solution,” Friedman said.

She also said they could offer their school as a place to hold information sessions, offer a short course for certain skills, or host different departments to talk to their students.

“Accessing students who have an affinity with human services like that. There may be many students who didn’t realize this opportunity existed and we would be more than willing to help with those connections,” Friedman said.

Firefighters we spoke to say volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and a great opportunity for young people to learn leadership skills.

“It doesn’t have to be your life’s work,” Friedman said, “but it will be a lifelong skill and it can definitely alter your path.”

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NY is looking for new ways to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters

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