Windsor Central High School sophomore Andrew Munson started volunteering at the Windsor Fire Company in January. He’s already made an impact.
“I wish I had 10 Andys,” said Windsor fire chief Craig Terrell.
Munson is still working through a six-month probationary period. He hasn’t gone on any fire calls yet, but he’s learning about the communication system, fire trucks, and other equipment.
“My dad and grandfather were volunteers and I thought I’d try it. My dad wants me to do it as a job, so I thought I’d get the feel of it,” said Munson, who does plan on becoming a firefighter. “It’s cool. I like it. A lot of times we just sit and talk about stuff – trucks, fires, what’s happened in previous fires.”
Munson and classmate Jared Wilbur volunteer with the Windsor Fire Company, while WCHS sophomore Landon Maynard volunteers at the West Windsor Fire Department. Local leaders are hoping high school students can help fill the depleted ranks in volunteer fire companies throughout the area.
“For some communities, especially rural communities, volunteer departments are their only source of fire protection,” said Broome County District Attorney Michael Korchak. “It’s our community and we really need to have everyone pitch in. Countless people have stories about volunteer firefighters who have come out and saved their homes.”
Korchak has tasked WCHS resource officer Marc Ayers with starting a drive to bring more high school students into local volunteer departments in Windsor and beyond. Ayres spent 35 years as a volunteer firefighter in four companies, beginning when he was 16.
“The idea came to us and Marc to get the kids at a young age interested and learn what it’s all about – community and public service,” said Korchak.
“You can become part of a family. No one knows the pride, privilege and bravery that comes with being a firefighter like your fellow volunteers,” said Ayers.
Those volunteers also know the impact they can have.
“I tell everybody, if you help one person you carry that with you forever. It’s just gratifying to help people. We try not only to teach them firefighting skills but people skills,” said Terrell.
“Some of my friends have lost their homes in fires. I’d like to try to stop that,” said Maynard.
“My grandfather and dad were both firefighters. Now my dad and I are,” said Wilbur, who plans on moving to New York City to become a firefighter full-time. “I like the family aspect of it. It’s like a band of brothers."
If you or a student you know is interested in joining the fire service, each individual volunteer fire house in New York state is holding an open house on April 22nd.