Yorktown hosts firefighter carnival to raise money, get more volunteers
Yorktown Heights Engine Co. No. 1 Fire Department held its annual parade and carnival Wednesday.
The Fireman’s Parade has been celebrated since the early 1900s.
"My kids all grew up here. My oldest is 46 and we've been coming here all these years,” says resident Joe Longobardi.
The U.S. Fire Administration says 90% of the state's fire departments are volunteer.
Like most other volunteer departments, Yorktown is always struggling to find more members.
Parade Grand Marshal Jason Swart says people have multiple jobs and families.
"Life gets in the way,” he says. “There's a shortage in young individuals who want to be civil servants."
Data from the Firefighters Association of New York shows there's been a decline in the number of volunteers from about 180,000 in 2000 to 80,000 in 2020, but Swart says calls have only gone up.
There are some new initiatives to help, like a state law allowing municipalities to offer a reduction in property and school tax for volunteers.
Swart says Yorktown is working on enacting that and the department is requesting the school district do the same.
He says in the end, if you're going to volunteer, you're doing it to perform your civic duty.
If you're interested in volunteering, most departments will cover your training.
If you're looking for other ways to help, come out and support carnivals like this. Yorktown Fire says it's their biggest fundraiser of the year.