Many local fire departments will open their doors this weekend as part of Recruit NY, now in its third year. The statewide initiative is designed to attract new volunteers.
Four Chautauqua County fire departments participated in the program last year, and fire officials were hoping for more participation this time around. They got their wish as departments continued to add their names to the list.
"We have a lot more interested this year," said Dan Imfeld, county deputy fire coordinator. "We're trying to make a difference in the county, and we're trying to make people aware. This is certainly one way to do it."
As of Wednesday, 31 local fire departments were participating in the effort by holding open houses with activities and volunteers to whom interested people can speak.
"We are trying to do this in a more organized way this year. The county Emergency Services Office has promoted this among the fire departments," Imfeld said.
The following fire departments will have an open house on Saturday: Bemus Point, Brocton, Cassadaga, Celoron, Chautauqua, Cherry Creek, Dewittville, East Dunkirk, Fluvanna, Gerry, Hanover, Irving, Kennedy, Lily Dale, Maple Springs, Mayville, Ripley, Sheridan, Silver Creek, Sinclairville, Stanley Hose Company, Sunset Bay and West Dunkirk.
Open houses will be held Sunday at Busti, Falconer and Forestville fire departments.
The following departments will hold open houses on both Saturday and Sunday: Ashville, Fredonia, Lakewood, Stockton and Westfield.
"The departments are all in the same boat," Imfeld said. "Because of the economy, young folks go away to school and don't come back. ... Traditionally families were involved in the fire department. Grandparents, parents and then their children used to volunteer. We are trying to reach out to others. There is a spot for everyone."
Information about local departments and the times they listed for recruitment can be found at www.recruitny.org, which is sponsored by the Firemen's Association of New York.
Imfeld also encouraged those with questions to call the Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services at 753-4341.