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Long Island

LI fire departments hope new volunteers get hooked

Michael Reid, of the Merrick Fire Department, left,

Michael Reid, of the Merrick Fire Department, left, and John Scalesi, of the Bellmore Fire Department, speak at the Firefighters Museum in Garden City on Thursday, April 21, 2016, as Long Island's sixth annual RecruitNY campaign began to help recruit volunteer firefighters. Credit: Chris Ware

Dozens of firehouses around Long Island will roll up their doors this weekend and invite the public inside in an effort to hook them on the merits of becoming a firefighter.

“Any resident who has any interest in firefighting can go down to the participating fire station in their neighborhood and learn more about firefighting,” Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said Thursday.

“They can try on the gear,” he added. “It’s very hands-on. They can get their questions answered, and they can also learn how they can qualify for Nassau County property tax exemption and free college tuition.”

Mangano and other officials from Nassau and Suffolk spoke at a news conference at the Nassau County Firefighters Museum & Education Center in Garden City to publicize the sixth annual RecuritNY Weekend.

More than 500 fire departments around the state are participating, according to Robert McConville, president of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York.

“It 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,” McConville said.

Older people should also consider joining the fire service in some capacity, such as driving vehicles, Joe Williams, the commissioner of Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services, said.

“You’re going to meet the best people you can ever meet,” Williams said.

There are about 105,000 volunteer firefighters in New York State, up sharply from the 85,000 in 2011 when the recruiting drive first kicked off, according to Robert Leonard, a spokesman for the volunteer firefighters’ association.

The current volunteer force has been stretched thin because it is responding to more medical calls and its members are devoting fewer hours because of family and financial pressures, Leonard said.

To check on an area firehouse, visit and click on “participation in your area.”

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