CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. — A timely debate about which shore, east or west, will come down to a competition to see who can bring in the most volunteer firefighters.
The competition is being spearheaded by the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CapCOG) after FEMA gave them a $ 2.2 million, four-year grant. CapCOG and the local fire departments in the Capitol region hope that they can recruit 200 new volunteers over the next four years, and reach a goal of 50 new recruits for 2022.
This competition comes at a time of dwindling numbers for many fire departments across the Commonwealth. Nate Silcox, Chair of CapCOG, said that this can be a worrisome trend.
"Back in the 1970s, we had 300,000 volunteer firefighters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania—now we are down to 38,000 as of 2018," Silcox said. "It's a statewide issue and locally here, each of our fire companies are having the issue of retaining our older members, as well as recruiting the new ones."
Chief of New Kingstown Fire Company, Curtis Hall, said that there are many opportunities to volunteer that do not require running into a burning building. Hall said there were openings in administrative and EMT work in many fire departments across both shores.
For the sake of the competition, he hopes new recruits choose New Kingstown.
If you want more information about the volunteer competition campaign and ways to become a volunteer, click here.