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Rye Firefighters Looking for a Few Good Volunteers

RYE, N.Y. – On a downcast rainy Sunday afternoon, nearly 10 people showed up at the Rye Fire Department recruiting drive. Capt. Richard Cadigan, the recruitment coordinator, said the department is “never full” even though it has had “a good influx of young guys recently.”

“We’re always looking to add to it, because people’s situations change – they move out of town, they start a family, you never know,” said Cadigan, a 12-year veteran of the recruiting drive. “You always need more people. You’re never full, because you could always use an extra pair of boots on the ground.”

The event, which was mandated by the New York State Firefighters Association, was meant to find people who would like to become firefighters. Cadigan said “it’s not a big number” and “the trick is always to try and find them.”

The department, which has been around since 1875, has 16 full-time firefighters and about 40 “really active” volunteers. The department goes on about 1,000 calls a year, said new Chief Mike Taylor, a 21-year volunteer.

Cadigan said he is looking for people who can emulate the “hard-core” volunteers at the Rye Fire Department.

“Of that, I’d say maybe 25 are hard-core,” the Rye resident said of the volunteers. “On true emergencies and fire, these guys know what they’re doing, they feel confident. They’re going to throw a pack on, drop a tool, grab a hose. They’re going to go in there and start making conditions better – and that’s who we’re always looking for, the next guy that can do that.”

One of the people who showed up at the recruiting drive, 22-year-old Andrew Dapolite, said he has “always been interested in getting involved" at the Fire Department.

“I’ve always been around a lot of these guys,” said Dapolite, a lifelong Rye resident. “I know Chief Taylor and former Chief Hogdon very well. So they always give me a hard time about not joining. I finally thought I’d come back in and check it out. I think it’s a great service to the community.”

Dapolite said he used to be an EMT and “just let that expire” in order to join the Fire Department.

“I guess this is sort of replacing that part of my life,” he said. “I know the community very well, so I look forward to volunteering in this capacity as well.”

Dapolite will undergo about 96 hours of training in a two-month class to learn the basics before joining the “tight-knit and welcoming group” at the Rye Fire Department, Cadigan said.

“The training is admittedly kind of front-end loaded,” Cadigan said. “It’s a pretty much heavy-duty upfront commitment. It’s supposed to introduce you to all aspects of firefighting, but it’s just the beginning.

“Training is ongoing. We’re always looking for the next guy to add to the core group of guys that we have now. On any emergency scene, the most important thing to make it safe not only for the citizens, but for us as well, is the amount of boots on the ground. You can’t put a price on that.”

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