WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — Sunday wrapped up an important weekend initiative in fire halls across the state, called “Recruit New York.” The goal was to increase the number of volunteer firefighters in the community and statewide.
Holly Schiferle grew up in a fire hall.
“I’ve been a fire hall brat — which is what they’re called — since when my father joined when I was four years old,” she said.
That’s why she decided to become a volunteer for the Williamsville Volunteer Fire Department 11 years ago.
“It’s rewarding. It’s comforting to us to be a comfort to someone else,” she explained.
Schiferle’s a second-generation volunteer firefighter. Her children also volunteer.
Stories like Schiferle’s are becoming less common, as departments statewide are seeing a decrease in volunteers.
“It’s time constraints, it’s families today working two and three jobs, it’s kids’ sporting events. It’s tough,” Firefighters Association of the State of New York President Edward Tace, Jr. told News 4’s Ali Touhey. “I think the numbers have declined over the years.”
Tace said the goal of this weekend’s Recruit New York event is to gain 10,000 new volunteers statewide.
He’s lobbying to make it a little more worth the while. Currently, volunteers receive a $200 state income tax credit. Tace said they’re pushing the state to increase it to $800.
Ultimately, Tace said he’s encouraging others to volunteer for reasons money can’t buy — “To help one another. That’s what it’s all about: helping one another,” he said.
If you missed the recruitment events this weekend and you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, Tace said you can stop by your community department at your convenience. Anyone inside will be happy to offer assistance.
Ali Touhey is an anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2023. View more of her work here.