Gowanda Volunteer Fire Department needs you
During the open house on April 21 and 22, visitors touring the fire hall got a firsthand look at all of the different types of equipment utilized by the fire department. Department members explained the functions of each apparatus.
Visitors learned that the Gowanda Volunteer Fire Department is involved in much more than simply fighting fires or even providing Emergency Medical Services. With the proximity of the Cattaraugus Creek and Zoar Valley, the department also gets called into action to perform rescues in the water and on the cliffs.
Fire department volunteers provide assistance to the State Troopers and County Sheriffs as well. On one occasion, Gowanda personnel and equipment were used to help the Sheriffs eradicate a marijuana field.
A team from Gowanda was asked to come and provide medical and rescue support for a triathlon in Buffalo. With their specialized equipment, team members were able to stay in the water with the swimmers for 45 minutes.
During the Gowanda flood of 2009, the fire department’s response was pivotal. Its equipment and personnel were instrumental in getting patients and equipment evacuated from the hospital, to name just one aspect of their service.
When you keep in mind all of the things local fire departments do to serve the community, the question posed on the Gowanda Volunteer Fire Department’s recruitment flyer takes on added significance: “What would happen if the fire whistle blew – and no one came?”
“Volunteerism is dying these days,” commented Second Lieutenant Nadean Chamberlain. “People no longer want to volunteer. Too many people ask, ‘What’s in it for me?’ rather than asking, ‘What can I do to help?’ The self-worth and feeling you get when you help, the fact that someone’s alive at the end of it – that’s what it’s all about.”
Chamberlain pointed out fellow volunteer Drew Carriero as an example. The Gowanda Volunteer Fire Department rescued Carriero when he fell over a cliff in Zoar Valley. Fire department officials said they had never seen anyone survive the type of fall that he took. Since recovering from his injuries, Carriero has undergone training and now serves as an active member of the fire department, in addition to his college studies.
Zoar Valley Rescue Team Leader Randy Campbell noted, “We’re always looking for young, excited volunteers to help out.” The fire company needs volunteers of all ages, but as current members get older, they especially need the next generation to step up, he said.
Junior firefighters can join the company at age 16. Fire Police Captain Kathy Camp is hoping to start an Explorers program in Gowanda, which would get kids involved at a younger age. The fire company members plan to discuss the possibility and vote at a meeting in May.
The recruitment flyer expresses the bottom line: “The community needs you!” For further information about joining the Gowanda Volunteer Fire Department, call 532-3434 or 532-9502.
If you’re not a Gowanda resident but are interested in volunteering, contact your own local volunteer fire department. Fire companies throughout the area have similar needs for volunteers.