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Lake Placid VFD plans open house for April 28

April 19, 2019
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - A call came into the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department recently - a woman had been walking her dog by the frozen water along Mill Pond Drive, and the dog fell through the ice. Third Captain Arron Barney slipped on his cold-water rescue suit and headed for the ice.

Barney and the rest of the fire crew saved the dog, and the owner was grateful.

"That's one of those moments that validates the work," Barney said in a phone interview Wednesday, April 17. "It's real customer service."

Article Photos

Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department
(News photo — Griffin Kelly)

The Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department on Old Military Road will host an open house from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 28 as part of RecruitNY, a statewide initiative to find new volunteers.

"The past several years have been challenging for volunteer fire departments across New York state, as many are struggling with decreased membership and increased call volume," Barney wrote in a press release. "Like most volunteer fire departments, the Lake Placid Vol. Fire Department needs to bolster its ranks so it can continue to provide the optimum and necessary level of protection for its residents."

The open house includes tours of the department, trying on firefighter gear, demonstrations and learning about the various apparatuses. There will also be free food and giveaways.

Right now, Barney said Lake Placid has about 55 volunteer firefighters, but that includes some retired and inactive members.

"We like as many as we can get," he said. "A long time ago, there used to be a waiting list for us - the state put a max on how many volunteers you could have. It's gone now, but we haven't been close to that max in a while."

Barney got involved with the fire department when he was 16 and still in high school.

"My dad was a big proponent," he said. "He was down there all the time, and I'd join him, so that kind of pushed me into being involved."

Many people who live in Lake Placid work two jobs or are still in school. Barney said it can be a little difficult trying to manage time between personal life and volunteer work, but the department tries to be as accommodating as possible.

"There are certain minimums that need to be met in terms of training," he said, "but we're not super hardcore with pressuring. If you can't make it, you can't make it. Nobody's going to be upset if you miss one call.

"We're just looking for motivated people willing to give up some extra time and give back to the community."

Now 24, Barney was recently elected third captain along with Gavin Martin as fourth captain, Joshua Pelkey as second captain, Ryan St. Louis as first captain, Adam Marshall as second assistant chief, Mike. St. Louis as first assistant chief and Torry Hoffman as chief.

The work may be volunteer, but it comes with plenty of benefits - paid training, work-related medical coverage and cash benefits. The Firemen's Association of the State of New York also has a program that helps reimburse community college tuition.

Aside from the tangible benefits, Barney said the real reward comes from the work.

"Just knowing we're making a difference is what matters," he said. "A call comes in and we show up."



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