Faces of volunteerism: Fire departments seek new members

Recruit NY to be held April 21, 22 at all local departments

These are the faces of volunteerism in Camillus, Marcellus and Fairmount fire departments.

These are the faces of volunteerism in Camillus, Marcellus and Fairmount fire departments. Photo by Amanda Seef.

Recruit NY Events

Fairmount Fire Department, April 21, 22; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Camillus Fire Department, April 21, 22; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Marcellus Fire Department, April 21; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Fire departments: To see your department's events added to our calendar, email Amanda Seef at aseef@eaglenewson...

— It was a routine medical call. An elderly man — not breathing, unconscious and unresponsive. Paramedics did all they could and were bringing the man from his home, with the man’s wife by his side. She leaned down and whispered, “I’ll meet you there. I love you.”

A smile spread across the man’s face, responsive only to the love of his life.

“It was the most obvious smile,” said Erich Nägeli, a Fairmount volunteer firefighter and EMT. “Here’s this guy, with no pulse, completely unresponsive to us. And he smiles. When that guy smiled for his wife, I broke down crying.”

Calls like that stick with emergency crews, Nägeli said, and have been a concrete reason why many men and women continue to volunteer their time for their local fire departments.

The public will soon get a chance to find out what the local departments are doing, and why they volunteer their time. The state-wide recruitment drive, Recruit NY, will be held April 21 and 22 at the tail end of National Firefighter Week. Nearly all departments will open their doors to anyone interested in learning more about how the departments operate or how to apply to be a member. The program aims to bring fresh faces to the departments and to showcase what local departments are doing.

The majority of fire departments in Onondaga County are 100 percent volunteer, said George Davenport, a Manlius resident and chairman of the recruitment committee for the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York. Davenport first started Recruit NY in Onondaga County, where 52 of the 57 departments in the county participated. FASNY has since taken the drive statewide.

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