The Deer Park Fire Department is intensifying its recruitment efforts after receiving a federal grant to fund projects including marketing and tuition assistance for higher education.
The $402,000 grant, secured by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) through the Department of Homeland Security, is part of a nationwide, $420-million program to improve and restore fire department staffing.
Ten percent of the program’s grant money is designated for recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters, like those who serve most of Long Island.
“I'm ecstatic,” said Deer Park Fire Commissioner Anthony Macaluso, who said that while demands on the department have increased in recent years, the faltering economy has made it harder to recruit volunteers, especially younger ones.
The department has about 136 members now, Macaluso said. He hopes to bring in 20 new members every year.