Bill Farrell, a 29-year-old Marlboro Fire Department volunteer identified a problem at the Marlboro, NY fire department where he has been a firefighter since May, 2001. In a community of approximately 4,000 residents, there were not enough new volunteer firefighters to provide protection to lives, property, homes and businesses.
Second Lieutenant Farrell brought it up at a monthly departmental meeting and the firefighters got to work using more brains and imagination than scarce dollars, resulting in a 44% increase in membership over 2010. Identifying their target market with surgical precision, they created a number of initiatives guaranteed to appeal to that demographic of young, local residents most likely to volunteer. Utilizing no-cost and low-cost social media tools, they created a website, a Facebook page, made three videos, which can be found on YouTube, and posted “Volunteers Needed” on Craig’s List.
Working under the assumption that potential new, young recruits are interested in making a contribution to society as well as feeling an adrenaline rush, Marlboro Fire Department’s videos feature exciting, motivating visuals. One video, appropriately enough for active, would-be firefighters, plays the music of Eddie Van Halen, who’s been said to possess physical skills of hand-eye coordination, amazing quickness, and uncanny timing.
Not overlooking more traditional means of getting out their recruitment message, the Fire Department has two double-sided signs displayed in widely-seen locations, including one behind the post office, with themes such as ‘Serve your family & community’. One sign, a 5′ by 5′ on wheels, is positioned on 9-W.
Marlboro works closely with the D.A.R.E Program and does an auto extrication demonstration on Prom Day at the local high school. In addition to the recruitment message that sends, a bonus is the reminder it gives the students on the dangers of driving while impaired or distracted right before their important party night.
Marlboro will be hosting their RecruitNY Open House April 26th featuring training and an apparatus display during the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY)’s Statewide Annual Recruitment Event. The night before, they will hold their Annual Comedy Show Fundraiser at the Marlboro High School; more information is at: Marlboro Firefighters FaceBook page and MarlboroHose.org.
The RecruitNY campaign is designed to help increase volunteer membership numbers which have suffered over the last few years due to various factors including the state of the economy, family and financial responsibilities, and current volunteers aging, retiring, and moving out-of-state.
During the RecruitNY 2014 Open House Weekend, (April 26th & April 27th) volunteer fire departments across New York State will open their doors and fire truck bays to local residents as part of the statewide volunteer firefighter recruitment effort. Fire departments will conduct tours of their firehouses and fire apparatus, allow visitors to try on turnout gear, and provide visitor activities throughout the firehouse. Members will discuss the volunteer requirements and rewards that come with being a volunteer firefighter, as well as conduct demonstrations, answer questions, and let visitors know how to go about joining their fire department.
“Last year, nearly 600 departments in 59 counties across the state participated in RecruitNY and we expect even more counties to get involved this year,” said James A. Burns, President of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York. “RecruitNY has proven a success in past years and is a key initiative to help bolster membership numbers so fire departments can continue to provide the optimum level of protection to their local residents.”
Established in 2011, RecruitNY is a joint undertaking by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs (NYSAFC), Association of Fire Districts of New York State, Volunteer Fire Police Association of the State of New York, and County Fire Coordinators Association of the State of New York.
For fire departments that would like to sign up for RecruitNY, simply log on to www.recruitny.org/signup and fill out the participation form.
For area residents looking for more information, or to find out if your fire department is participating in RecruitNY, visit www.recruitny.org or contact your local fire department via a non-emergency phone number or its website.
In addition to the annual RecruitNY campaign, FASNY is in the midst of a multi-year, year-round volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention program across New York State made possible by a $4.2 million United States Department of Homeland Security Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant that began in 2011. To learn more about the “Fire In You” campaign, visit www.fireinyou.org