What makes volunteer firefighters stay in Centre County?

Local News

By Sarah Paez

Samantha Gribble always knew she wanted to be a firefighter, ever since she was a little kid.

In her Howard home, she watched on repeat “Ladder 49,” the 2004 film starring Joaquin Phoenix as a Baltimore firefighter trapped in a burning building. She loved the story about risking everything to save lives, plus the camaraderie of a city fire department.

Now at age 18, Gribble is among the shrinking number of Pennsylvanians who make up the state’s cash-strapped volunteer fire companies. Only two others in the Howard Fire Company responded to more calls than she did last year, company President Mark Ott said.

She’s among the youngest members there, working alongside people her parents’ age and older as Ott draws hope from her example. Pennsylvania counted about 38,000 volunteer firefighters last year, down from roughly 300,000 in the 1970s, according to the state Fire and Emergency Services Institute (Click here to read more)

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