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Fire company marks 75 years

There were so many members, said Brizzell, the department had a waiting list.

That isn't the case anymore. Many of Colonie's "old farming families" like the Brizzell, Emerick and Unser families, despite three generations of service in the department, can't tackle the more than 700 calls a year the department gets. Colonie's other 11 departments fill the gap, but it's becoming harder and harder to land volunteers.

"We are always looking (for recruits). We are trying to do recruiting at Siena College a lot. We are using our marquees, commercials," said Chief Daniel Farrell.

Farrell, 39, joined the department in 1987.

The department has made it a habit to set up a table at Siena's opening day. Sometimes they get students who are interested, other times they get volunteers.

"A lot of them always wanted to be a firefighter. They want to help people, and a lot of them move on to be career firefighters," Farrell said. "It's kind of like a family away from home. We have them for four years, they graduate and move on."

Some stay.

Winston Roberts, 25, originally from Brooklyn, now living in Albany, is one of two new recruits who have dedicated themselves to the department full-time. Roberts and the other recruit bring the department's volunteer core to 150.

"This is my first experience in fire service at all. It was one of those things, as a little kid you always wanted to be a police officer or a fire fighter. This is the first time I have done something in the Albany community. I figured if I'm going to be in this community anything I can do to help will be important to me," said Roberts.

Roberts attended the University at Albany for both his under graduate and graduate degrees in education administration. A friend he went to school with at Albany joined the department and began telling Roberts about it.

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