Do you have what it takes to be a volunteer firefighter?

WHEATFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB) – Volunteer firefighters play a critical role in many of our local communities, and they’re always looking for new members to join the ranks. “In a volunteer fire department our biggest asset is our members,” said Frontier Volunteer Fire Company Past Chief Rich Silvaroli. “If we don’t have members, we can’t respond, we can’t help the community that we serve.”

Many local departments will be holding open houses this weekend to show community members what becoming a member is all about.

MORE | See the full schedule of fire department open houses in Western New York and across the state.

Local fire departments need more than just interior firefighters. They need everything from drivers, to EMTs, to fire police and social members. But the Frontier Volunteer Fire Company recently gave News 4’s Katie Alexander the chance to see if she had what it takes to head inside a burning building to put a fire out.firefighter 2

Katie donned a full set of gear, including the face mask, and did a little training with a fire hose before she headed into the training tower with Frontier crews to tackle a live burn. It was pretty nerve-wracking, she said, explaining that it was very hot inside and the smoke was so thick, it could have been disorienting if she didn’t have the experts with her to back her up.

Veteran volunteer firefighters told News 4 they remember being a little nervous about their first fires, too. “It was definitely scary,” recalled Frontier Volunteer Fire Company Lt. Nick Shepherd, “because I wasn’t sure what it was actually going to be like until I got in there.”

“It was kind of scary with it being the first one,” agreed Wendelville Fire Captain Nick Kalbfliesh.

But, every firefighter goes through a lot of training to be ready for any sort of fire situation. And, while it’s very serious business, it’s also exhilarating. “I like the thrill and the rush of getting it and helping somebody out in their dire need,” Lt. Shepherd said.

firefighter 1Every firefighter helping Katie learn the ropes told her the work was extremely fulfilling.

“When you’re helping out your neighbors, saving their property, or even on an emergency medical call, an EMS call, saving someone’s life,” Silvaroli said, “it’s very rewarding.”

“I just like helping the community and thought it would be a good time, and so far it’s been great,” said Wendelville Fire Lt. Kieran Hickman.

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a volunteer firefighter for your local department, you can check out an open house as part of the RecruitNY initiative this weekend. Full details about participating fire departments are available online at: http://www.recruitny.org/participation-area/

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