SCHENECTADY — You may have seen them on billboards, on social media, at local colleges and at the Schenectady Greenmarket.
Firefighters have launched a campaign to recruit new members.
Assistant Fire Chief Don Mareno has seen interest becoming a firefighter wane over time.
He was among the hundreds of applicants who took the civil service exam several decades ago.
But the number trickled to 33 in 2018, down from 51 just two years previously.
“Our goal is to get as much information out there as possible,” Mareno said. “We’ve never been this aggressive before.”
Mareno said he doesn’t know why interest has plummeted, whether it's because of increased training requirements or other factors.
“This is not unique to Schenectady, as far as I can tell,” Mareno said. “Other departments and emergency service providers are also having challenges, even those with less rigorous requirements."
The department will hold several information sessions to drum up interest. The first is Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at Schenectady Fire Department’s Veeder Avenue headquarters.
Applicants must be a certified paramedic and have at least 60 college credits to be granted an interview, but can take the exam before meeting those requirements.
Recruits will also be required to take a physical fitness exam.
The residency requirement is flexible, and anyone who has lived for at least a month in Schenectady, Albany, Montgomery, Saratoga or Schoharie counties can apply.
Right now, there are six openings at the department, which has 119 positions. The number will grow to eight in April.
The civil service exam is April 25, and the deadline to sign up is March 9.
The starting salary is $43,570.