HUGHESTOWN -- Firefighters say it's getting more and more difficult to recruit new volunteers with longer and more expensive class requirements.
A local fire company got creative to bring in more members.
Some of the volunteers at Hughestown Hose Company say they actually get double takes when they tell people they live in a fire department.
"One minute you're hanging around some of your best friends, maybe playing some games and just talking, and then that bell goes off, the mood completely changes," said Patrick Kaczmarczyk.
Patrick has been living for free at the station for five years. He's a nursing student at Wilkes University saving roughly $14,000 by rooming there. He also received free firefighting training as a live-in.
"I became a nationally certified firefighter and EMT through Pennsylvania through absolutely no cost out of my pocket."
And he's not the only one. Three other volunteers live there and now the live-in program is expanding. There's room for three more if they're willing to volunteer with the department.
"By having someone here 24/7 really has brought in some new volunteers because there's always someone here," Kaczmarczyk said.
The fire chief says the company has more active volunteers than most with about 20 to 25 regular members but still, 20 years ago when class requirements for becoming a firefighter were less time-consuming and costly, there were about 30 to 35 regular volunteers.
"The fire service is almost at an all-time low, especially the volunteer fire service. We're just at a point in time when people are working multiple jobs to survive and people just don't have as much time as they used to," Kaczmarczyk added.
Another positive of the program is that at any given time, there are one to four regular volunteers there, which means that the trucks can get out to emergencies more quickly.
"It cuts down response time. You get better protection in the area. I love it," said Hughestown resident Mike Lizonitz.
To get more information on how to volunteer, call 570-654-4188.