Clifton, N.Y. ? On Monday, volunteer firefighters from the Clifton Fire Department put out a fire at a Chili home.
However, they weren?t the only ones there. Six other departments were also called? a sign of how short-staffed each department is.
?Being low on manpower, we tend to call a lot more departments to these fires,? says Clifton Volunteer Fire Department Chief Peter Henry. ?The fire we had today, we called six companies to the scene just because we were low on manpower and we needed the additional help.?
Chief Henry says that years ago, a similar-sized fire would have only required one or two departments.
?Nowadays we've got great equipment, but we don't have the people to run it,? he says.
Since 1984, the number of volunteer firefighters has declined more than 10 percent nationwide.
Fire chiefs say the recent economic climate has forced many potential volunteers to take second jobs and they don?t have the time to volunteer.
In order to boost recruitment numbers, fire departments across New York state will hold open houses on April 9 and April 10. Potential recruits will get a tour of stations and fire trucks and watch live demonstrations.
The Monroe County Fire Bureau says there are various volunteer positions available for anyone 18 years and older, but many departments need younger firefighters.
?We need a lot of younger firefighters,? says Chief Henry. ?It's a strenuous job pulling the hose lines into the structures, having to cut holes in roofs, pull down ceilings and walls to get to the fire. It really is a young man's job.?
Jim Nobel agrees. The retired Rochester police officer has been volunteering with the Clifton Fire Department for the past seven years. He says they need younger talent. He admits firefighting isn?t easy, but he does it to give back to the community.
?You see the family who's devastated, but you see people getting together helping somebody they didn't even know,? says Nobel. ?They?re going to risk their life to help somebody else, and this country was formed on that form of participation.?