Tag: Volunteer

6 Ways To Help Your Local Fire Department

how to help your local fire department

I often get asked by people outside the fire department on how they can help out.  The majority of people I talk to are very thankful for the work their local firefighters do, and sometimes they would like to help out more.  I have created this article to help spurn some ideas that you may not of thought about on how to help your local fire department.

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PA Volunteer Departments – Please Take Notice

Here on the eve of the G20 Summit, its certainly busy times for fire departments in western PA as plans are being put in place.  However, I would like to bring the following state budget news to everyone’s attention, in case you missed the news at first like I did myself.

The state has announced they may have a budget agreement after the latest changes.  One of those changes is to levy a 20% tax on small games of chance income.  Guess what that means fellow volunteers?  For every $10 you make at bingos, cash bashes, lottery ticket sales, etc the state is going to take $2 from you.  How is that for “supporting” you local fire department?

There is no mention of the state grant program for fire and ambulance services, but it sounds like that will stay in place. I’m guessing they didn’t want to touch that because the public would hear “cutting funds to fire/ems” and there would be an outcry.  If they tax small games of chance, the general public may not realize who that is really impacting.

Per the Tribune-Review

A new 20 percent tax would be levied on the profits of small games of chance, which include punch boards, pull tabs and raffle tickets. The tax will be paid by the licensee, said Andrew Crompton, a lawyer for Scarnati. It will not include bingo.

The tax is applicable to nonprofits with liquor licenses. It does not extend to church raffles, he said.

Prize limits will likely increase from the current $5,000 per week to $20,000 per week per club, Crompton said.

Looks to me just another step in getting volunteer fire departments to close their doors.  I agree, in some counties there are too many departments, and some consolidation is needed.  However, at the rate they are changing things, its almost like certain government leaders have agenda’s to close them quickly.

I recommend discussing this new proposal of the budget with your state representative.  Let them know us volunteers only have so much time in a day, and that working 20% more for fundraising is not something that the state should be making us do.  Do the state leaders really think we make that much from Night at the Races and lottery tickets?

They are back in session on Wednesday to discuss the details of this new proposal, so there is still time to make your feelings known.  Pennsylvania is still the only state without a current budget.

Live-in firemen fill void through volunteer program

By Jodi Weigand

Original Article

Robert Gowans moved 600 miles from Berlin, Vt., to join Monroeville Volunteer Fire Co. No. 4.

He wanted to take advantage of the station’s live-in program, which allows him to stay there rent-free while earning his paramedic certification at the Community College of Allegheny County.

“I love going on the calls and I love helping people,” said Gowans, 19, who joined his hometown volunteer fire department on his 13th birthday. “I love the gratification of being the one responsible for getting called when someone needs help. When they call 911, they’re calling me.”

The fire company, like other volunteer outfits in Monroeville, Ross and Penn Hills, implemented a live-in program to make sure the station is staffed at all hours. The number of volunteer firefighters in the state has dropped from about 300,000 in the 1970s to between 40,000 and 50,000 today, State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann said.

The living spaces in the fire stations include a sleeping area, kitchen, laundry and bathroom facilities and a recreation room. Most members have a required number of on-duty hours and are on call overnight.

“They help fill a void that’s being created because not a lot of volunteers work where they live,” Mann said. The setup supplies a steady influx of new members because students usually stay until they finish their degree, then are replaced by others like them.

From 20 to 25 volunteer firefighters live at Monroeville stations 1, 4, 5 and 6, said Doug Cole, chief of Company 4. In addition to being a full-time student (any major is OK), each must become an emergency medical technician and complete the Pennsylvania Essentials of Firefighting training course.

Regular membership hasn’t decreased dramatically in Monroeville, Cole said, but having younger volunteers is an asset.

“Our volunteers are becoming like me — they’re all pushing 50,” Cole said. “The physical stuff is a young guy’s job.”

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Volunteer Fire Departments Facing Volunteer and Funding Shortage

Mississippi Approximately 200,000 people have left the ranks of volunteer fire departments nationwide in the past 20 years and the ranks continue to dwindle. The numbers have gone from about one million volunteer firefighters to around 800,000. The problem also exists in Jones County.

“Our departments are not fully staffed,” said Lance Chancellor, public information officer for the Jones County Fire Council. “There is not a single department that has everybody they need. There is not one department that could not use more personnel.”

The 20 volunteer fire departments in the county especially know that during the past few weeks, in which there have been higher than normal incidents requiring major emergency personnel response including an oil well fire, a natural gas leak in front of an elementary school, traffic fatalities and major structure fires. And Chancellor said that has been the trend in Jones County over the past few years historically higher call volumes than in the preceding years.

“Some of our volunteer fire departments need additional personnel more than others,” he said. “That’s particularly true in the rural locations where you don’t have a very large population base to draw from. Some in the suburban areas closer to Laurel have more people actually living in their area. They have more people to recruit firefighters from. There is a national need. Nationally, we’ve lost approximately 200,000 volunteer firefighters that have just left, and haven’t been replaced.

“Folks are working more, or working two jobs, and just trying to make ends meet,” continued Chancellor, who is stepping down as the PIO for the Jones County Fire Council after five years, but will continue as the assistant fire chief for Powers VFD. “They just don’t have the time to devote to it. The common refrain across the country is ‘we don’t have enough people.’ They’re working too much, there is no time to go to meetings and mandated training. It puts a strain on those who are left in the departments. Volunteer fire services levels are down everywhere.”

There are approximately 700 water meters in the Soso Community Water System. Those on the water system have the option of giving an extra dollar a month on their bill, which goes to help support the volunteer fire department. Only about 220 are contributing, said Soso Fire Chief Glen Musgrove.

“New people who move in don’t know about the option,” Musgrove said. “$700 would certainly keep the trucks running and pay the bills.”

The area the Soso fire department serves has three other water systems within it, including Matthew-Moss and Tri-County. “We haven’t been to the other water systems, but it would be nice if they would add a dollar a month,” he said. “We could split with Shady Grove (VFD) on Matthew-Moss, and maybe split Tri-County with Stringer.

“Obviously, the supervisors (the Jones County Board of Supervisors) talk like volunteer fire departments are an important part of the county, but we don’t have their full support,” Musgrove added. “EmServ was doing extrication several years ago, but we (the VFDs) took it on without any additional funding. That has dramatically increased our run numbers.”

Musgrove said the county’s Class 8 fire rating saves the average homeowner about $492 a year on insurance premiums.

“I have five vehicles parked at my house,” he said. “I can probably find in excess of a dollar in change in the ashtray in every one of them. A 20-ounce Coke is $1.38. We’re asking for a dollar a month minimum. Some are giving $2-$5 a month.

“We’ve gotten federal grants for new trucks and equipment, but we’ve had to cough up over $25,000 to match those grants,” Musgrove continued. “People look at our equipment and say we’ve got all the money we need, but it’s not true.”

Musgrove said the Soso department has five active volunteers. His wife, Julie, is one of them. She is certified as a firefighter and a driver.

“Sometimes, it’s been just me and her responding to fires,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of guys well over 60 years of age, and they’re good drivers. They’re both dedicated. We had two structure fires in one morning several weeks ago. I took a truck, and one of them took a truck. He pumped two trucks and I fought the fire.

“When we ask for volunteers, people say they have too many irons in the fire, that they’re too busy,” Musgrove continued. “I know what that’s like. We have five children at home, four school age, and we home-school them. We’re trying to open a hardware store in Soso, plus I have a full-time job.”

He is a broadcast engineer for Clear Channel Radio.

Musgrove has been a volunteer firefighter off and on for 24 years and has been at Soso since 1984. He’s been chief for the past five years.

“We plan to go door-to-door asking for financial support, and for volunteers,” he said. “And while we’re there, we’ll ask if they have smoke detectors. If they don’t, we’ll get them some. If the batteries need changing, we’ll do that. Unfortunately, right now, we don’t have the time to do it. We’ll have to take an hour or two a day when anyone with the department can help.”

Click link for original story FireFightingNews.Com