Fire companies feeling the heat without volunteers, funding

Local News

By Sarah Paez

Imagine your neighbor’s house catches fire one bitterly cold night. You live in a rural, wooded area about 10 miles from the nearest fire company.

An emergency dispatcher says help is on the way.

Nine fire companies from across Centre and Mifflin counties quickly arrive. Despite the wide response, the below-zero temperatures and hilly terrain create obstacles to crews trying to draw water get hoses up to the house. One of the closest departments sends firefighters on an engine that’s almost 30 years old. When they try to draw water from the creek a half-mile from your neighbor, the rig’s pump fails.

This wasn’t just a worst-case scenario but reality last month for the Gregg Township Fire Company, which joined other departments to battle flames shooting from a Potter Township home on Mountain Spring Lane. The house was a total loss.

The struggles faced by the Gregg Township crew underscore the financial and staffing pressures making it tougher for volunteer fire departments across Pennsylvania to safeguard their communities.

Fewer people are volunteering with the companies every year, especially in rural areas where tax revenues may not be enough to support a paid firefighting force. (Click here to read more)

This is part of WTAJ’s partnership with Centre Daily Times for daily news content.

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