Volunteer fire departments across New York State are recruiting new firefighters and many fire halls will open their doors and fire truck bays this weekend. They’ll be doing tours, showing how fire equipment works, answer your questions and even let you try on fire gear for yourself. This weekend is the 9th annual RecruitNY Open House Weekend.

Only Buffalo and Lackawanna have fully paid fire companies. In Kenmore and the City of Tonawanda they have paid firefighters that take the equipment to emergency calls, but they depend on volunteers to help. The rest of Erie County is protected by  volunteer fire departments and approximately 5,000 volunteer firefighters.

At least 36 fire companies in Erie County and 15 in Niagara County are participating in this weekend’s Open House.  But all fire departments across Western New York are looking for volunteers. 69 percent of the firefighters in the United States are volunteers. If you’re tough enough, if you’re smart enough and you care enough to volunteer, they can use you.

Most fire departments have an Explorer or Junior firefighter program for young people between the ages of 14 and 18. Once they get the training they’re able to help out at fire scenes in a limited capacity.

There are some benefits and rewards to being a firefighter.  If you're interested in volunteering and to get a list of fire departments participating this weekend click on RecruitNY.org/participation-area/.