Billboards, ads urge people to join fire department

Photos by Tom Rivers: This billboard on Route 98 in Albion, by the Oak Orchard Estates mobile home park, is one of several focused on retaining and recruiting volunteer firefighters.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 April 2017 at 11:54 am

Albion firefighters are shown on Sept. 24, 2014, responding to a truck fire outside Pawlak’s Save-A-Lot in Albion. Firefighters were quickly on scene to put out the fire.

Fire departments in Orleans County are stepping up efforts to recruit and retain members this month.

The Orleans County Emergency Management Office is using a $9,000 grant from State Assemblyman Steve Hawley to pay for billboards and ads to draw attention to membership in the 12 fire departments in the county. (Hawley also provided $10,000 to Genesee County for a similar recruitment and retention effort.)

The four billboards are located on Route 98 by Oak Orchard Estates in Albion; Route 31, east of Riches Corners Road in Albion; Route 31, west of Walmart in Albion; and Route 31, east of Bates Road in medina.

The county used the “Is there a Fire in You?” campaign developed by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York. (Click here for more information.)

The recruitment campaign also includes ads in the Orleans Hub and The Lake Country Pennysaver.

The grant also paid for a presentation from guest speaker Tiger Schmittendorf, a nationally recognized expert in volunteer recruitment and retention. He led a program on March for firefighters at the Clarendon Firemen’s Recreation Hall.

There are currently about 800 active firefighters in the county, which is down from about 1,200 in the 1980s and ’90s, said Dale Banker, the county’s EMO coordinator.

Each of the 12 fire departments in the county also received a large recruitment banner to display, welcoming new members. The banners will be out leading up to the “Recruit NY” events on April 29-30.

The departments at Barre, Carlton and Fancher-Hulberton-Murray are all planning “Recruit NY” open houses on either April 29 and/or the 30th, Banker said.

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