NORWOOD - The Norwood Fire Department - as well has many other squads in the region - held recruiting drives last weekend in an effort to grow their membership numbers.
The Norwood volunteers held their first drive on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon and have received one application thus far for membership.
Basically what we did was hold an open house to get members to join and it is being done statewide, Assistant Fire Chief Tina Garrow said. We discussed what was involved with the department, showed them around our department and showed them the equipment. ... Its a drive to try to get people involved. It takes many man hours to be as efficient as you can and be a firefighter.
Norwood Mayor James H. McFaddin said that he is aware of the statewide issue with volunteer interest and is hoping that recruiting drives will help.
(The problem) is pretty much nationwide because of the lack of numbers and interest in the fire departments. They are a valuable resource to our communities and provide a very important service, he said. The village board is very aware of the Norwood Fire Department making great progress in training, etc., and they dont just serve the village, they serve the entire community. We are extremely proud of them and their efforts, and they provide an extremely important service.
Ms. Garrow noted that other area fire departments began with recruiting drives last year but Norwood was unable to get started until now. Their department, which is headed by her father, Roy Garrow, plans on taking part in another event next year.
She also said that despite just the one applicant so far, the group is optimistic that more members still come out of future drives.
We did end up with an applicant, and we do an investigation to see if there are any issues with that and we bring it to our meeting for a membership vote. ... It is decided by a two-thirds vote, and we do a background check on them, etc. We want to get a feeling of how the applicant is and the department holds an interview with the applicant, etc., Ms. Garrow said. It requires a 75 percent approval and if the vote is passed, than it is passed on to the village (board) for final approval. Its happening all around us where many departments are struggling for membership.
St. Lawrence County Emergency Services Director Michael J. LeCuyer said that this past weekend was a statewide initiative, and he too is aware of the dire need for more volunteers.
With the amount of training thats required to be certified even as a volunteer firefighter – they are pretty stringent. It is difficult to retain and get people to volunteer for this, he said.