SAYRE, Pa. (WETM) – Across the state of Pennsylvania volunteer firefighters are in short supply, and state lawmakers are calling it a crisis. There were around 400,000 volunteers in the state back in the ’70s, now that number has fallen to just over 30,000.
“The one thing volunteer firefighters have is pride and when you take that away, that’s when you start losing numbers…Unfortunately, the kids aren’t seeing the glory like we used to way back when,” said Rob Repasky, Sayre Fire Department Fire Chief.
In Bradford County Pennsylvania all 25 of their fire departments are made up of volunteers.
“Years ago we’d be able to handle a structure fire with one or two departments…Now you will see five or six departments respond, and that’s just to get the manpower that’s needed,” said Repasky.
Basic training for volunteer firefighters is a minimum of about 200 hours and can take three to six months
“It’s asking a lot of somebody to put their life on the life out of their own goodwill, they don’t get paid for it they don’t get rewarded for it,” said Repasky.
At the fire departments in Corning, NY many of the firefighters are career firefighters. Meaning they are paid either full or part-time for their work.
“We have all the vacancies filled and I don’t expect that’s going to change anytime in the near future,” said Brad Davies, Fire Chief at City of Corning Fire Department.
But even career firefighting has seen, a less drastic, but, a significant decline over the years.
“There are 18 career firefighters currently… years past we had 29 career firefighters,” said Davies.