fire & ems

Calling all volunteers

By TED WADDELL
Posted 4/28/21

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Your local volunteer fire departments and ambulance corps need dedicated volunteers every day of the year, 24-7.

A recurring theme when talking to folks involved in …

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fire & ems

Calling all volunteers

Posted

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Your local volunteer fire departments and ambulance corps need dedicated volunteers every day of the year, 24-7.

A recurring theme when talking to folks involved in emergency services—from the newest, wet-behind-the-ears boot recruit to the seasoned veterans who run the whole show—is that recruitment and retention are keys to the future.

At a recent Fire Districts Association of Sullivan County meeting, Jill Holland, a fire commissioner from the Kauneonga Lake Fire District, posed a question to the assemblage: What can the association do to get people to volunteer in service to their communities?

“Recruitment and retention is a problem here the county, as well as across the nation,” said Sullivan County Bureau of Fire Coordinator John Hauschild.

Hauschild, Holland and Rick Sauer, commissioner of the Sullivan County Division of Public Safety, met to formulate a survey seeking input from the local fire services to ascertain if there was interest in starting a countywide recruitment and retention initiative.

The nuts and bolts of the survey were put together by Holland and later distributed by the Sullivan County Bureau of Fire to the county’s 40 fire department chiefs, along with 36 fire district commissioners.

“The data gathered from the survey will be used to form an action plan for the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters in Sullivan County,” noted Hauschild. Thirty-six of the 40 fire chiefs (90 percent) and 17 of the 36 fire commissions (47 percent) responded.

According to Hauschild, one of the key inquiries in the survey was the number of volunteer fire departments covering school districts in the county: Sullivan West Central School District (20), Monticello (15), Fallsburg (10), Liberty (8), Tri-Valley (8). Other school districts include Pine Bush, Homestead School, Hancock, Port Jervis, Ellenville, Roscoe, Livingston Manor and Eldred.

“The schools will be one of the target areas to try and recruit new members,” said Hauschild.

Several volunteer fire departments and emergency medical service (EMS) providers already have recruitment tools in place (open houses, sign boards, social media, word-of-mouth, fundraisers and RecruitNY), but some of these efforts are on hold due to the lingering pandemic

RecruitNY was established in 2011 as a joint undertaking by the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, Association of Fire Districts of New York State, Volunteer Fire Police Association of the State of New York and the County Fire Coordinator’s Association of the State of New York.

According to a recent press release posted by RecruitNY, the program was “designed to help increase volunteer membership, which has suffered over the last few years due to various factors including the state of the economy.”

FASNY, which represents the interests of more than 92,000 volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel, was founded in 1872.

According to Hauschild, 98 percent of the responding departments indicated they would be interested in a countywide recruitment and retention project. The fire bureau has been in contact with Alex Rau, the county’s EMS coordinator, as “recruitment is also a problem or them.”

In response, the Sullivan County Recruitment and Retention Task Force was formed to recruit new members countywide. The task force launched a Facebook and Instagram presensence called Join Sullivan County Fire in April.

The 2020 training report issued by the Sullivan County Emergency Services Training Center in Swan Lake, NY lists 25 completed courses by 552 firefighters, who collectively put in 5,259 training hours.

In the same annual reports, fire departments were dispatched to 5,445 calls, fire coordinators and deputy fire coordinators were dispatched 615 times, and fire investigators were dispatched to the scene 64 times.

For information on the countywide recruitment and retention program, contact Hauschild at 845/807-0508 or John.Hauschild@co.sullivan.ny.us.

Your local volunteer fire department and ambulance corps can be contacted by referring to the listings of non-emergency phone numbers.

For fire departments that would like to sign up for RecruitNY, contact Hauschild or visit www.recruitny.org/signup.

Residents of the area looking for more information about RecruitNY or to find out if your local department is participating, visit www.recruitny.org or find Join Sullivan County Fire on social media.

For information about FASNY, visit www.fasny.com.

What is the Sullivan County Divison of Public Safety?

The Sullivan County Division of Public Safety is charged with overseeing the office of emergency management/homeland security, bureau of fire, bureau of emergency medical services (EMS) and the E-911 center.

The overall mission of the office of emergency management/homeland security is to monitor and assist in emergency and security situations, both natural and manmade.

The bureau of fire’s stated mission is to facilitate a professional level of support to the county’s firefighters by “providing training instruction and safety guidelines for firefighters, and operational and technical assistance to fire officers.”

The mission of the county’s bureau of EMS is to “provide the leadership, support, education and cooperation necessary to enable the EMS agencies... to provide the best emergency medical care possible.”

At the E-911 center, the goal is to “provide all residents and visitors to Sullivan County with professional, expedient and efficient 911 dispatch services for all fire, EMS and police emergency calls.”

At present, there are a total of 41 volunteer fire departments and 17 EMS agencies serving the Sullivan County community, both full-time and part-time residents, along with an ever-increasing number of transplants from the metro area.

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