Volunteer fire departments in need of more firefighters

(WTNH / Josh Scheinblum)

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Saturday marks the beginning of National Volunteer Week and for many volunteer fire departments in the state of Connecticut they’re going to be using the upcoming days to bring in new people into their ranks.

From Wethersfield to parts of Middletown fire officials report they’re in need of more personnel.

“We’re short approximately 15 to 20 people right now,” said James Ritter, a captain with the Wethersfield fire department.

Ritter’s organization is one of 65 in Connecticut that will be holding open houses at some 90 locations on Saturday.

“The beauty of the volunteer fire service is there’s not necessarily an ideal candidate,” said Ritter. “If you’re young and your healthy we’re looking for interior firefighters but anybody can really contribute.”

The reasons for a lack of volunteers varies from community to community. Some departments we spoke to blame the economy while others point to low availability during the summer months. Yet, what all seem to agree on is that more is better.

“I’d love to see us have another maybe 10 or 15 people who were very active,” said Westfield deputy chief Darrell Ponzio.

Ponzio says however it’s important people understand being a volunteer fire fighter is a big commitment. To become certified he says takes around 180 hours of training and that’s only the beginning.

“You’ve got to go to drills, typically every week so another so say another four hours worth of training. Then you’ve got the calls themselves and the calls come in any time day or night,” said Ponzio.

There are around 26,650 fire fighters in the state of Connecticut, about 22,225 of which are volunteers.

Most open houses will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. If you would like to check out an open house they will be held at;

Allingtown Volunteer Fire Association, West Haven
Avon Volunteer Fire Department
Beacon Hose Co. No. 1, Beacon Falls
Beckerle & Co. Hose Co., Danbury
Bethany Volunteer Fire Department
Broad Brook Fire Department
Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department
Center Groton Volunteer Fire Company
Central Village Fire Company #1, Plainfield
Coventry Volunteer Fire Association
Cromwell Fire Department
Darien Fire Department
East Hartland Volunteer Fire Department
Easton Volunteer Fire Company
East Wallingford Volunteer Fire Department
Flanders Fire Department, East Lyme
Gardner Lake Volunteer Fire Company, Salem
Harwinton Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.
Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Company Inc.
Killingworth Volunteer Fire Company
Ledyard Fire Company
Long Hill Volunteer Fire Company, Trumbull
Lost Acres Volunteer Fire, Granby
Manchester 8th District Fire Department
Marlborough Volunteer Fire Department
Middlefield Volunteer Fire Company
New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department/Ball Pond VFC
Niantic Fire Department
Nichols Fire Department, Trumbull
Norfolk Volunteer Fire Department
Noroton Fire Department
Noroton Heights Fire Department
North Coventry Volunteer Fire Department
North Farms Volunteer Fire Department, Wallingford
North Haven Fire Department
North Madison Volunteer Fire Company
North Thompsonville Fire Department, Enfield
Preston City Volunteer Fire Department
Redding Fire & EMS Co. 1
Rocky Hill Fire Department
Salem Volunteer Fire Company
Shaker Pines Fire Department, Enfield
Shelton Fire Department
Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company, Weatogue Station
Somers Fire Department
South End Volunteer Fire Department, New Hartford
Southington Fire Department
South Windham Fire Department
South Windsor Fire Department
Stafford Fire Department No.1
Stamford Volunteer Firefighters Association
Suffield Fire Department
Taftville Volunteer Fire Department
Torrington Volunteer Fire Service
Trumbull Volunteer Fire Company
Warren Volunteer Fire Co., Inc.
Washington Volunteer Fire Department, New Preston
Watertown Fire Department
Westfield Fire Department, Middletown
Wethersfield Volunteer Fire Department
Willington Fire Department #1
Willington Hill Fire Department
Winchester Volunteer Fire Department
Windham Center Fire Department
Windsor Volunteer Fire Department
Wolcott Volunteer Fire Department

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