NORTH SALEM, N.Y. — Where in the world can you find five Outhouses, three Blauvelts and a couple of Hannaburghs? How about the Croton Falls Fire Department (CFFD)?
Serving North Salem and its surrounding area, the CFFD was founded over a hundred years ago. Last year was the second busiest in the department's history. Responders handled over 650 calls.
"In the beginning it was just a bell and a gong and you were lucky to see who'd turn up for the emergency," explains President Jeff Daday.
Since then, the responsibility has been passing down from father to son and from brother to brother.
The old-timers never seem to quit, Daday continues, but the department is always looking for more recruits. "Men, women, teens and seniors — we need everyone and we welcome them with open arms. There's always a spot that somebody can fill."
Many people don't realize that the department is one hundred percent volunteer, so they don't consider joining, says Fire District Chairman Angelo D'Agostino. "People also hesitate because they think they'll have to run into a burning building or make a life-or-death decision. But for every firefighter who runs into a building — and it doesn't even happen that often — there may be ten people outside. Fighting a fire takes a lot more than just grabbing a hose."
There may not be salaries but there are some significant perks for active members. Some of these include a ten percent reduction in town taxes, health insurance, and use of the state-of-the-art fitness room at the handsome new facility just off Exit 8 of 684. Open since November, the complex is triple the size of the older Front Street location and is more centrally located to serve the district.
"The best perk of all, of course," says Daday, "is that you get to blow the siren." He sums it up as, "Volunteering for the department is like joining a family. The volunteers depend on you, you depend on them and the whole community depends on us.”