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Facing shortage of volunteers, the Capital Region bands together for recruitment of firefighters

The organization announced a four-year outreach program that includes a new regional recruitment website and a $2.2 million grant from FEMA.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Facing a need for volunteers at 21 fire companies in the Capital Region, a local council of governments announced on Wednesday a plan to increase recruitment.

Covering areas of Cumberland, Dauphin and Lebanon Counties – as well as a mix of city, suburban and rural communities – the 21 fire companies all have one thing in common: a need for volunteers.

To fill the shortage, the Capital Region Council of Governments (CapCOG) created a new federally-funded recruitment campaign. The move comes as fire companies locally and nationally struggle to retain firefighters.

During a press conference hosted by CapCOG, the organization announced a four-year outreach program that includes a new regional recruitment website and a $2.2 million grant from The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"We need volunteers across the Capital Region," said Scott Ryno, a coordinator of the 21-fire company regional effort. "Our message of 'Step Up, Gear Up, Volunteer,' is one we hope to push out to our communities, and that will start with this website."

The website includes volunteer testimonials, how and why to volunteer, FAQ, and photos. 

A navigation map on the website shows visitors the fire stations closest to them. Leads from individuals who inquire are provided directly to their local fire company for follow up.

Officials with CapCOG said this is just the first step in a four-year recruitment effort.

"Our communities in central Pennsylvania depend on volunteer firefighters, and this program is designed to reach out to the community and find new people to be involved in a great thing," said Jerry Ozog of the Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute. "Firefighting and volunteer firefighting provides a great impact."

No previous experience is required to volunteer.

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