Firefighter Push Draws Interest

LAKEWOOD – Fire departments across Chautauqua County opened their doors over the weekend as part of a statewide effort to entice more volunteers.

More than 30 fire departments participated in the third annual “RecruitNY” in the county, a large uptick in participation over last year. Officials were hoping the awareness campaign would help lure potential volunteers.

“I think we definitely accomplished what we set out to do,” said Dan Imfeld, Chautauqua County deputy fire coordinator. “I would call this a moderate success. Most departments got one or two people to sign up.”

Gauging the effectiveness of the state initiative may take time.

“We didn’t get great numbers in any one place, but in Lakewood we got one person to sign up and a couple of other kids who were actually too young.”

Imfeld, who also is a firefighter and emergency medical technician with the Lakewood Fire Department, said he was pleased to see most departments in the county take part in RecruitNY.

Volunteers, including EMTs, drivers and fire police, are in high demand, Imfeld said.

“We were able to show the community what we had by opening our doors,” he said. “We were able to show what we need. If everyone was able to get at least one new volunteer, that’s 50 or 60 new members countywide right there.”

In Busti, a few interested volunteers stopped by the fire department, Chief Mike Volpe said Sunday.

“We had a few stop by and ask some questions,” he said.

Added Matt Stafford, an assistant fire chief in Busti, “We always try to tell people that there is something for them to do with the fire department.”