CROWN POINT — Make the worst day of someone’s life a little better.
That’s how Crown Point Fire Chief Joseph Norton described the mission of his department.
If that sounds like something you’d like to do, Norton invites you to drop by your local fire station on April 27 or 28 for the ninth-annual RecruitNY Weekend.
Established in 2011, RecruitNY is an undertaking by the Firemens Association of the State of New York that sees volunteer fire departments across the state open their doors and provide the public with a glimpse of what it means to be a volunteer firefighter.
Dozens of North Country fire departments will host open houses on one or both days of the event.
Visitors will have the opportunity to speak with active volunteers and participate in typical fire service activities.
“We show them around, let them try on the turnout gear, let them try out the mask, put them in the driver’s seat (of a firetruck),” Norton said.
“We don’t let them drive,” he joked.
PLENTY OF JOBS
But there’s something about getting to hold the gear and see the station that seems to make people on the fence decide to join up, he said.
The Crown Point department saw three new recruits join after RecruitNY 2017 and two new sign-ups after last year’s event.
Part of that, Norton believes, is showing people who might be nervous at the idea of fighting a fire that they'll be equipped with the right gear and training for the job.
"We do a lot of in-house training, we have state instructors come in and do training," he said. "We make sure that they've got the tools to do the job."
There are also plenty of jobs beyond fighting fires that fire departments are looking to fill, Norton said.
“We’re looking for drivers and EMTs, first responders, air-pack people, fire police; there’s an opening for everybody,” he said.
Norton said fire police play an especially important role, including helping direct traffic around a fire to keep firefighters safe.
Also important are fire auxiliary crews that bring food, drinks and other supplies to help refresh tired firefighters.
Recruiting fire engine drivers and pump operators are especially high priorities right now for the Crown Point department, Norton said.
WORN LOTS OF HATS
Over more than 30 years with the department, Norton has served in a long list of firefighting positions, ranging from chief to captain to fire investigator and EMT.
"There's not too much of the fire service that I don't do," he said.
So for those wondering where they could fit in, Norton looks forward to answering their questions.
"Come on in, take a look around and see what we've got."