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Pike catering to local volunteers

Tim Knapp, Pike County training center’s operations training and facility director, is pictured with the newest of three tactical vehicles furnished to the county through the Northeast PA Counter-terrorism Task Force and the federal Department of Homeland Security.
TRR photo by David Hulse

By David Hulse
June 11, 2014

MILFORD, PA — “We’re trying to promote recruitment, trying to make it easier for people to volunteer,” said Commissioner Matt Osterberg.

Osterberg was characterizing the discussion at the meeting on June 5 detailing the upcoming Bucks Basic Fire Academy course to be given at Pike’s training center beginning in August.

While Tim Knapp characterizes Pike’s current volunteer pool of availability as adequate, the decrease in volunteerism in the emergency services is a statewide problem. In 1981, PA had 351,000 volunteer firefighters. That number has decreased to 50,000 today.

Knapp, Pike’s training center director, said the program is for ages 14 and older. “We need 10 for the class. Eight are already signed and I’m hoping for 30,” he said.

The county has also been working with Pike’s two school districts. Wallenpaupack Area already has a students’ firefighting club and Delaware Valley is expected to offer one in the fall. “We want to see the new Career Technical Education Facility offer a firefighters’ path for graduation,” said Commissioners Chair Rich Caridi.

The 112-hour basic firefighter’s course is about evenly divided between lecture and lab, and includes the bulk of 188 hours required for firefighter professional qualifications.

“When you hear about the hours volunteers put in… they have families and jobs, and a lot of fire companies mandate training as well the fundraising work they do. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for our hometown heroes,” Caridi said.

Knapp said instructors from Gettysburg, Lancaster and Harrisburg have been impressed with the county’s new training facility.

In addition to facilitating volunteerism, Caridi said the training facility within the county keeps active units available. “When they go out of the county, they’re taking their equipment out of service. This keeps people and vehicles in the county.”

For more information about the upcoming training schedule, email Knapp at tknapp@pikepa.org.