Updated: February 14, 2020 07:40 PM
Created: February 14, 2020 05:45 PM
"Someone a lot wiser than me said if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. I never worked a day in my life," said Don Mareno, Assistant Chief of the Schenectady Fire Department.
Considering Mareno has been with the department for 30 years, that's a pretty impressive statement. Now the Assistant Chief, he is working hard to convince others to follow in his footsteps.
"The one requirement that I will not waiver on, you need the passion for this," said Mareno.
The year Mareno joined the department he was one of more than 300 candidates, but over the years the number of applicants has dropped drastically. In 2018, there were just 33.
This year, they're hoping a billboard campaign and multiple open house informational meetings will spark some interest.
Mareno says Schenectady has some of the strictest requirements. Applicants must be at least 20 years old, have a minimum of 60 college credits and already hold their New York State Paramedic Certification. If they satisfy those, a candidate then takes a civil service test followed by a physical ability test.
Even with those rigorous requirements, the men and women doing the job say the end result is a job unlike any other.
"I came into a job where not only am I working with my best friends, but it's family and we get to help the community and do something that I'd never be able to do anywhere else," said firefighter Mitchell Burke.
"Every day that I come to work, I have the opportunity to make a difference in the community and possibly someone's life," said Deputy Chief Doug Faulisi.
Schenectady firefighters will answer more than 18,000 calls each year. Mareno says their rescue rig is the busiest in the state and consistently ranks in the top 10 busiest in the country.
They're accepting applications through March 9 with a civil service test slated for April.
Successful candidates will begin training at the Firefighting Academy in August.
"If you have a passion to be in emergency services to make a difference in people's lives, we want you here in Schenectady," said Mareno.
There will be an open house held at Station 1 in Schenectady at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 15.
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