MATTYDALE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — There is a dire need for volunteer firefighters and emergency workers across Central New York. This weekend a major recruitment drive gets underway.

As calls for help to fight fires increase the number of men and women responding to those calls is declining.

“There’s a dire need like you said. This last year with this pandemic has just kind of added to that foundation that we need to get out, recruit more, our doors are going to be open,” says Jon Barrett, FASNY Training Education Committee.

That’s exactly what fire departments in Central New York will be doing come this weekend. Fire departments will hold open houses to try and sign up new recruits.

“Always looking for members. You can do whatever you want. If you don’t want to be an interior, you can be an exterior, EMS. We have a variety of jobs people can fulfill for us,” says Chuck Smith, Fire Chief Mattydale Fire Department.

The Mattydale Fire Department will be holding a chicken bbq this weekend to coincide with the campaign. Anybody that’s interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter is welcomed.

“Looking at the apparatus, vehicle extraction demos, fire extinguisher demos, so post pandemic we’re trying to ease our way back into it to make sure its safe on each side,” says Barrett.

It’s all part of FASNY RecruitNY Campaign, an initiative to recruit firefighters and emergency workers that started 13 years ago.

“The biggest thing is there’s a membership classification for everybody,” says Barrett.

Whether its a firefighter, fire police, drivers or emergency workers, help is needed.

“There’s also a need on the corporation side. Whether it be a retired accountant that can help balance the books for the fire departments,” says Barrett.

Fire departments are always looking for women to join them as well.

“A lot of people have that concern that if I join am I going to be treated differently. No, everyone is treated the same. I put the pack on, pick up the tools just like the guys do and go into the building,” says Beth Handler, volunteer firefighter and Lieutenant for Camillus Fire Department.

A rewarding feeling, while also helping those who need you the most.

If you do decide to become a volunteer firefighter, the training is free. If you’re interested in visiting your local fire departments for RecruitNY Weekend, whether it’s in-person or virtual, click here.