Nassau County has had about a 40% dip in volunteer firefighters over the past decade. NewsdayTV's Steve Langford reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

Nassau County firefighters are hoping to boost recruitment of volunteer firefighters this week after they said ranks have dwindled by 4,000 firefighters in the past 20 years.

The county revealed the first census Monday of the county’s fire service, composed of 71 Nassau volunteer departments. The results showed the county’s ranks had fallen to 6,178 volunteers from more than 10,000 firefighters after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Fire officials said they do not have enough firefighters needed to protect the 1.4 million residents and 386,000 homes in Nassau County.

“Right now we’re meeting the needs and we’re able to get to scenes,” Nassau County Fire Marshal Mike Uttaro said. “But is 6,000 enough? No, 6,000 is not enough. We need more. Our ranks are aging. We need young members to come underneath.”

Uttaro pointed to three major fire incidents that occurred on Easter Sunday where 35 to 40 departments responded around the county.

Nassau County legislators and several towns have unanimously passed legislation seeking to incentivize volunteers by offering breaks on property taxes and free tuition at Nassau Community College.

The tax incentive reduces the 5-year service requirement for volunteers to two years and can reduce tax assessments by 10%. Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signed the legislature’s bill Monday at the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department as part of a statewide firefighter and ambulance recruitment week.

Suffolk County officials also will seek to drive recruitment this weekend at local firehouses, and both counties have established volunteer recruitment websites, nassausbravest.com and suffolksbravest.com.

Firefighter ranks have dropped by more than 30% statewide, from 110,000 to under 80,000 in the past 20 years, according to the Firefighters Association of the State of New York.

Fire departments  have struggled to attract and retain volunteers due to rising costs of living, changing demographics and losing up-and-coming students to college, said FASNY spokesman Robert Leonard, an assistant chief in Syosset.

“We’re suffering from the same problem as youth on Long Island with a shortage of affordable housing,” Leonard said.

Attracting firefighters has also been challenging due to training and time commitments, said Great Neck Alert Fire Chief John Purcell. He said departments have tried to bolster ranks through programs like junior firefighters in schools, but retaining young firefighters can be challenging.

“The requirement is astronomical between training and if you have a family or job and with training once or twice a week — people can’t find the time,” Purcell said.

Nassau County firefighters are hoping to boost recruitment of volunteer firefighters this week after they said ranks have dwindled by 4,000 firefighters in the past 20 years.

The county revealed the first census Monday of the county’s fire service, composed of 71 Nassau volunteer departments. The results showed the county’s ranks had fallen to 6,178 volunteers from more than 10,000 firefighters after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Fire officials said they do not have enough firefighters needed to protect the 1.4 million residents and 386,000 homes in Nassau County.

“Right now we’re meeting the needs and we’re able to get to scenes,” Nassau County Fire Marshal Mike Uttaro said. “But is 6,000 enough? No, 6,000 is not enough. We need more. Our ranks are aging. We need young members to come underneath.”

Uttaro pointed to three major fire incidents that occurred on Easter Sunday where 35 to 40 departments responded around the county.

Nassau County legislators and several towns have unanimously passed legislation seeking to incentivize volunteers by offering breaks on property taxes and free tuition at Nassau Community College.

The tax incentive reduces the 5-year service requirement for volunteers to two years and can reduce tax assessments by 10%. Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signed the legislature’s bill Monday at the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department as part of a statewide firefighter and ambulance recruitment week.

Suffolk County officials also will seek to drive recruitment this weekend at local firehouses, and both counties have established volunteer recruitment websites, nassausbravest.com and suffolksbravest.com.

Firefighter ranks have dropped by more than 30% statewide, from 110,000 to under 80,000 in the past 20 years, according to the Firefighters Association of the State of New York.

Fire departments  have struggled to attract and retain volunteers due to rising costs of living, changing demographics and losing up-and-coming students to college, said FASNY spokesman Robert Leonard, an assistant chief in Syosset.

“We’re suffering from the same problem as youth on Long Island with a shortage of affordable housing,” Leonard said.

Attracting firefighters has also been challenging due to training and time commitments, said Great Neck Alert Fire Chief John Purcell. He said departments have tried to bolster ranks through programs like junior firefighters in schools, but retaining young firefighters can be challenging.

“The requirement is astronomical between training and if you have a family or job and with training once or twice a week — people can’t find the time,” Purcell said.

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

Summer tourism ... Shark sightings on LI . . . Dino-Mite Vintage . . . What's Up on Long Island . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

Summer tourism ... Shark sightings on LI . . . Dino-Mite Vintage . . . What's Up on Long Island . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

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