The Slippery Rock fire department is looking for volunteers to help with their night time fire and EMS calls, in exchange for housing in their fire hall, through their Live-In program.
Volunteers would work in shifts from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., and are responsible to receive and or respond to fire and EMS calls. Slippery Rock fire chief Ken Taggart said he feels the program will start to kick in once the word gets out.
“This idea has been in the works for a while now,” Taggart said. “Now we are ready to get this going.”
Some volunteers would work in the office at night for potential emergency calls, while some would be responding to the calls. Taggart said the department is looking for anyone in the community to get involved and help. Even if someone doesn’t need the housing, they can still volunteer their time.
“It’s an opportunity for anyone to help out,” Taggart said. “With more help, we can provide quicker response times for the community.”
This is the first time the Slippery Rock Fire Department has tried an idea like this, but that doesn’t make them the first department to try something different.
“We’ve seen how it has worked in other areas,” said Taggart. “I view it as a win-win.”
Taggart is hoping that those who need the free housing will only need to work once a week, but he said he isn’t sure because the program just started and he doesn’t know how many volunteers he is going to get. The program officially started a few weeks ago and Taggart said he has had people call to ask about it, but no one has officially signed up.
“The word just has to get out,” Taggart said. “We are trying to spread the word through many different ways.”
The department is spreading the word through other newspapers, online resources like social media, and ads in public places in the area. Pennsylvania is going through a shortage of volunteer firefighters, and according to an article by PennLive, in the 1970s there were 300,000 volunteer firefighters in the state, but now today that number has dropped to about 50,000. This has forced departments like Taggart’s to find help by any way possible.