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State pushes firefighter recruitment

NISKAYUNA -- Fire departments around the country say they need more volunteers.

The Firemen's Association of the State of New York helped push a state wide initiative, Saturday, to recruit more volunteer firefighters. The National Fire Protection Association released numbers last year that showed volunteer firemen enrollment was at an all time low. Conversely the number of paid members was at an all time high, the report stated. 

"If enrollment continues to goes down then response will be limited and hurt by it," said Richard Roberts, Captain, Brunswick 1 Fire Company in Troy.

In Niskayuna the department is split between paid and volunteer members, said Chief Dale Lingenfelter. The department has 15 paid members and 25 that volunteer, said Lingenfelter.

The department is big enough to handle the call volume however Lingenfelter would "ideally" like double the number of current volunteers.

"Granted we have the career staff a core three person crew on 24/7, but to make that crew efficient and to keep us covered well we need a volunteer response to supplement that," said Lingenfelter.

Fire fighters believe the biggest reason enrollment numbers are down is the requirement to become a member. The state mandates about 80 hours of training just to be certified, said Lingenfelter.

To help with the cause New York has offered tax credits and scholarship money to those who volunteer to protect their community from fires, added Lingenfelter.

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