Bond beyond firehouse walls

By Erika Mahoney

May 22, 2014 Updated May 22, 2014 at 11:34 PM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) There's a bond that exists beyond firehouse walls in the Southern Tier; when firefighters need each others' backs, they don't hesitate to step up.

It's becoming a necessity because the number of volunteer firefighters in the Southern Tier is on the decline.

A recent example includes last month's brush fire in the town of Owego a month ago, which drew more than 100 firefighters together to stop what could have been much worse.

"Right there, you're seeing a number of volunteer fire departments interacting together, working together," Lt. Jeff Hontz of West Corners Fire Dept. said.

Local departments are depending more and more on mutual aid because numbers are down.

"There's just not enough firefighters to go around," Jack Singer of West Corners said.

That means the brotherhood most commonly associated among firefighters within the same department is growing more important beyond the firehouse walls.

On Monday night, four volunteer departments, Endwell, Union Center, West Endicott and West Corners, became one team, holding a joint training station in Vestal.

"We're bringing out guys together, we're meeting new faces, we're working together and we're building that brotherhood throughout surrounding departments so we can work efficiently and safely together in case of a fire," Hontz said.

Hontz said training with other departments is becoming more common, and each time, firefighters are able to pick up new tricks and trades.

"It's nice to get in here and see how they operate, how they use their ladders how they use their ladders, how they search, how they vent ..." Hontz said.

It's may be just practice now, but they next time they see each other, they could be responding side by side.

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