Butler Township–Ask just about any fire chief and they will tell you they need more volunteers.
A group of students in Schuylkill County is trying to make that happen.
The volunteer firefighter population in Pennsylvania is 50,000, in the 70’s there were 300,000.
Some students in the North Schuylkill School District have formed a group to try and increase those numbers. Mike Zangari a senior is a volunteer fire fighter. He wants classmates to join him.
“Bringing them in teaching them what we do show them what we do getting them interested to join a fire company and hopefully stay active with their company.” Zangari said
Fire Chief Knute Brayford of the Altamont fire company hopes the program works.
“When I started in it 16 years ago, we had more funding, we had more people willing to participate let alone firefighting now you have to out hundreds of hours of training in and we’re finding people don’t have the time or the energy .” Brayford explained.
Student Justin Reichwein said he is interested in becoming a firefighter.
“I would like to get my friends to join a fire company especially those who play sports, I play sports and I think it’s hard to do like with all the training and stuff but I’m going to try and do it .”
The idea of forming a student group was teacher Ryan McGurl’s idea.
That came after seeing last years fire in Pottsville that killed 6 people. 4 of them children. A part of the student group is to get more smoke alarms in homes. The home in Pottsville didn’t have any.
“I was on a backpacking trip with a friend of mine, he’s a teacher at North Schuylkill as well and we’re just saying something should happen at the district to provide smoke alarms to the disadvantaged kids and maybe it’s on your heart it’s your job to do .” McGurl said.
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter the best advice officials have is contact your local fire department.