The Selkirk Fire Department could see a handful of paid firefighters introduced to its ranks if it accepts a federal grant.
The department’s Board of Commissioners was expected to discuss a more than $500,000 FEMA SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant at its Monday, Aug. 20, meeting, which occurred after The Spotlight went to print.
The Selkirk Fire Department is one of five fire districts covering the Town of Bethlehem, and all are comprised of volunteer members. Selkirk is geographically the largest of these districts and the department is split into three companies, with approximately 75 active volunteer members in the ranks.
Melody Burns, an active member of the department, said the grant would give the department capital to bring on five paid members.
Volunteer departments have faced an increasing recruitment issue in recent years, thanks in no small part to shifting demographics in suburban communities. The Fireman’s Association of the State of New York is engaged in a multi-year “Is there a fire in you?” marketing campaign aimed at recruiting 18- to 35-year-olds made possible through a $4.2 million SAFER grant.
– Charles Wiff