By Jennie Acklin

The Ellicottville Fire Department is hosting an open house as part of the Recruit NY program this Saturday, May 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Every single citizen in the U.S. counts on firefighters and first responders to be there, just in case, every single day. Even if you’ve never called for help yourself, most likely you know someone who has.

In most areas, fire department members are volunteers who donate many hours to train and respond to emergencies. And there are never enough volunteers, especially in rural, sparsely populated areas.

“We need everybody – we can never have enough volunteers!” said assistant fire chief Rob Germain.

He added that, “We average about 150 fire calls and over 350 ambulance calls each year. We are always looking for volunteers to help with those calls.”

If you’ve ever thought about volunteering, or if your spouse or children have, this Saturday is your chance to learn more. It all starts at the Fire Hall (30 Fillmore Drive in Ellicottville) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

During the day, you can learn about volunteering, take part in CPR and fire extinguisher demonstrations, SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) demonstrations and pick up some fire prevention and safety tips. The fire trucks will be on display, as well as the EFD’s Hummer.

Members of the department will be there to answer questions you might have about what it means to be a volunteer and will explain that you don’t have to physically fight fires in order to be of help. There are many people who take on all sorts of roles you may not have even thought about, such as driving trucks, directing traffic, handling hoses, changing air tanks, distributing drinking water and restocking supplies.

Leaders and members of the EFD Explorer Post 652 will be there all day to provide information about this program for boys and girls ages 13-15.

The Explorer Post was established in 2015 to address the severe shortage of fire department volunteers, especially younger volunteers who can take the place of those who will be retiring in the next few years. It is part of the local Boy Scouts post 652.

Teenagers 16-18 may join the department as full-fledged members (with certain restrictions).

The Ellicottville Rotary Club’s recent donation will be used to purchase gear for the Explorers, as it was last year.

If you’d like to meet our fire chief Ed Frederickson and other members of EFD, everyone is invited to the open house. If you can’t make it Saturday, but are interested in learning more about joining, stop by the fire hall any Tuesday evening from 6:30-8 p.m. when volunteers gather for a work night. No advance notice is needed – just drop in. You can also visit the EFD’s Facebook page for more information – facebook.com/Ellicottville Volunteer Fire Department.