In the face of a concerning decline in firefighter recruitment across the nation, the Monsey Department (MFD) has taken a groundbreaking approach to combat the trend. Introducing a unique volunteer program, the MFD has managed to attract a surge of dedicated individuals eager to serve their communities and protect lives.
The traditional path to becoming a firefighter often entails rigorous training programs and extensive commitment, dissuading many potential candidates from pursuing the career. However, the MFD’s innovative program has opened doors for Orthodox Jews who are passionate about firefighting but are unable to enter the actual structure on fire due to their beards. Therefore, they have created the “exterior firefighter program”, which has become a major help to the fire department.
Under this groundbreaking initiative, volunteers are provided with comprehensive training and the opportunity to gain hands-on experience, all while maintaining their religious beliefs. This flexible approach has proven to be a game-changer, attracting a diverse pool of individuals who otherwise may not have considered firefighting as a viable option.
Since the program’s inception, the MFD has experienced a significant increase in the number of recruits, surpassing expectations and turning the tide against the recruitment decline.
Yitzi Grunwald was the pioneer for that program. He started four years ago.
He told NBC:
“I would really like to go inside but I know I won’t be able to because of my religious belief,” he told the I-Team. He says the support they provide to the internal team is invaluable, and their connection is critical in bridging the gap with residents who speak Yiddish rather than English.
“I’ve gotten a lot of times where they say, ‘Oh, we didn’t realize there were Orthodox Jews in the program.’ They seem appreciative that we can understand them,” says Mendy Friedman.
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