Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) As local fire departments face shrinking budgets and staff, Cortland and Binghamton city departments are getting help in the form of new members.
Action News introduces you to the newest recruits to serve the Parlor and Crown Cities after fourteen weeks of tough training.
These men are ready for your next emergency call. Thanks to a federal grant, five will go to Binghamton and three will join Cortland.
"Anytime we can bring new people on the job, it brings up the level of the whole department," said Binghamton Fire Department chief Dan Thomas.
The recruits join at a time when cities like Binghamton are not hiring new members and departments are subject to municipal budget deficits.
But, they still must be ready to fight unexpected obstacles.
"When it comes down to it, firefighters have to rely on their training," said Binghamton Fire Training Chief Rick Allen. "Everything falls back to training, and hopefully, I''ve given them a good foundation here at the academy to go out in to the real world and in to the streets, and be able to do their job, and do it well."
The local firefighters union president told the recruits to treat firefighting not like a job but more like a career, and it's a career many of these recruits have wanted to do for a long time.
"I can definitely see myself working an easy twenty five to thirty years in this job," said Eric Corwin of Endicott. "This is what I've wanted since I'm sixteen years of age."
Corwin will be heading to Cortland.
"It's a very satisfactory feeling when you can go out and help the public," Corwin said.
That's the sentiment from these new firefighters, who have treated their training like the real thing.
"It goes back to what they teach you in elementary school -- the buddy system," said Jesse D'Onofrio of Binghamton. "Stay in pairs, stay together, stay alive."
Graduates with words for each other, and those they serve.
Action News has followed the trainees through the fourteen weeks of intense training.
We will take you inside a smoke simulation trailer at the Binghamton training facility, to the scene of a practice car fire And for water rescue exercises, all to show what it takes to become a firefighter.
Our series of reports can be seen next week on Action News.