Upstate Issues: Volunteer Firefighters Reach Out

"It gives you personally a very good feeling, to know that you have the training and the ability to help somebody on probably what is the worst day of their lives." -John D'Alessandro, FASNY


New York communities have long relied on volunteer firefighters to keep their neighborhoods safe. More so than many of us realize.

The Fireman's Association of the state of New York was formed in 1872, with a purpose to educate, train and advocate for volunteer firefighters.  And their work has become essential.  According to spokesperson John D'Alessandro, somewhere between 85 and 90 percent of all fire and EMS response is accomplished by volunteers. 

Currently there are about 100,000 to 105,000 volunteer firefighters  in New York.  D'Alessandro would like that number to get back up to what it was in the early 1990's; he'd like to see that number back in the range of 120 to 130 thousand.


In this podcast, D'Alessandro explains that volunteering in your local fire department doesn't require a commitment to run into a burning building.  He says there is a job for everyone, from bookkeeping to traffic control to firefighter support services.

The job does come with some side effects...camaraderie, a sense of community, and a sense of purpose.

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Photos by Getty

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