Tuition incentives to recruit volunteer firefighters

CNY Central's Brandon Roth and Taunton Fire Department Chief Jeff Rudiger

When a fire breaks out, volunteer firefighters are often the first on the scene, but in recent years the number of volunteers has dropped significantly.

Taunton Fire Department Chief Jeff Rudiger says smaller fire departments like Taunton need recruits now more than ever.

"There is a shortage of volunteers in Onondaga County and we can use members. Every fire department in the county needs members," he says.

The number of volunteer firefighters is on the decline nationwide. To help recruit more volunteers, the Fire Association State of New York is offering volunteers who sign up tuition reimbursements at two year colleges as an incentive.

Gordon Kotars says the deadline to sign up for the tuition reimbursement program has just been extended to October 15.

"If we can put that offer out there that you can receive up to 100 percent tuition reimbursement from a two year college in return for being a volunteer firefighter we think that is a great tool," he says.

Fourth grade teacher Eric Swanson has been a volunteer EMT and firefighter with the Taunton Fire Department for five years. He says volunteering as a firefighter is a great way to give back to the community.

"If there is something going on we don't wish for it, but if there is, it is good to know that there are people in the community who will react in a moments notice."

More information on the tuition reimbursement program. More information on volunteering with Tuanton Fire Department.