Some fire departments in Nassau County will share nearly $700,000 in federal grants, officials said, to help them recruit and retain volunteers.
Fourteen fire departments in western Nassau County will align to develop a new advertising strategy, sharing costs for a new joint website and for placing television, radio and print ads.
Fire departments have long struggled to retain volunteers, and recruitment budgets are often the first to be cut. A better system, officials said, proved necessary.
"In years past, if you knocked on the door and you asked for an application and you didn't live in the district, that may have been the end of the story," said Kevin Mulrooney of JSK Public Safety, a company in Williston Park that writes grant applications. Now departments will redirect potential recruits, he said.
Working as one unit, officials said, departments will score better deals.
Mulrooney said districts will be able to "go to a printer and say, 'We want brochures and pamphlets, but we don't want 50, we want 500, and we want a better price.' "
Tom Devaney, captain of the East Williston Fire Department and director of operations at JSK, said firefighters might be asked to recruit at a neighboring community's street fair while firefighters from there are on duty.
Lynbrook, besides sharing the federal funds, will receive an additional $115,000, much of it to boost insurance coverage for its firefighters.
The partnership, Mulrooney said, benefits smaller fire houses. The village of Plandome, for example, "cannot afford a local marketing or advertising budget," he said. "They're spending all of their money on equipment."
"But now," he added, "We're going to be able to provide them with all that stuff."