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Being a firefighter | Tyler Tries It

FOX43's Tyler Hatfield joined the York Area United Fire and Rescue at the York County Fire School to learn what it takes to be a firefighter.

YORK, Pa. — Todd Heilman, chief battalion leader of York Area United Fire and Rescue, said he and other firefighters always live for an adrenaline rush.

To get that adrenaline rush, FOX43's Tyler Hatfield visited the York County Fire School in Manchester Township to learn why nearly 40,000 firefighters here in Pennsylvania do what they do for their community.

“It's hard and it's dangerous," said Heilman. "But it's a very fulfilling job.”

Chief Heilman had Tyler suit up with lifesaving equipment to experience what firefighters do every day.

At the fire school, young firefighters are put in situations they will face during calls. Trainers at the fire school said they want their cadets to learn the dangers of the job but in a safe environment.

"It’s a safe way to train our firefighters on how to attack a car fire," said Chief Heilman. "We try to make it as realistic as possible but with safety in mind."

Trainers also teach new cadets about vehicle rescue efforts, using the method, they call “extraction.”

“We disentangle the vehicle away from the patient," said Chief Heilman. "We don’t take the person out of the vehicle, we take the vehicle away from that person.”

Years ago, Chie Heilman said firefighting positions and opportunities were hard to find because of how fast they filled up. Now, trainers at the fire school said many openings are left vacant. Fire departments across Pennsylvania are seeing a 90% decrease in cadets since 1975.

“The dramatic drop is what really is hurting the field," said James Pritchard, administrator of the York County Fire School. "Ultimately it hurts the citizens because the people aren’t there to respond to the calls like they used to be.”

Chief Heilman said he hopes that more people will hear the call to be a firefighter. He says they won't regret it.

“If you ask any firefighter they're gonna tell you the same thing: 'It's the best job in the world,'" said Chief Heilman. “The reason that I am still in this job after all these years, is the other firefighters. It's the brotherhood.” 

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