[cifnmedia] New State Law Will Help Volunteer Recruitment

  • From: "Randall W. Ruble" <randallruble@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Randall W. Ruble" <randallruble@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2004 17:23:34 -0600

 

State Focus: Pennsylvania - New State Law Will Help Volunteer Recruitment 

By Robert Kalinowski , The Sunday Voice 
03/21/2004
Wilkes Barre Citizen's Voice 

A recently passed state law allows high schools to provide basic
firefighting and emergency medical training to students for course credit
towards graduation. 

The proposal was designed to benefit the recruitment and retention of
volunteer fire companies by letting students receive the basic required
training during school hours and not on their own time. Supporters believe
the proposal would provide a boost and a layer of convenience for
firefighters because becoming active in these fields requires many hours or
training. 

The idea has been met with enthusiasm by some local school and fire
officials, and the only roadblock for them remains how to implement the
program. Members of the Lake Silkworth Volunteer Fire Department recently
proposed the idea to the Lake Lehman School Board. 

Board President James Mahon said it's too early to know if or when the
program would be implemented, but liked the idea nonetheless. 

"It's something we're looking into and taking into consideration," Mahon
said. "I think it has some great merits, but we have to work out the
logistics," added Mahon. 

He said he would be able to comment in more detail after the board discusses
the matter further. 

State Rep. Kevin Blaum (D-121) said the law was authored primarily to
benefit rural fire and ambulance services, but it can be a benefit to all if
a particular school district elects to implement the program in its
curriculum. 

"This is a way to foster interest in emergency medical services and
volunteer firefighting," he said. "It's a good way to expose young people to
these very important services of the community." 

He thinks if local school districts begin the program it will generate
interest and help with recruitment in local volunteer fire departments. 

Rich Lewis, of the Wright Township Volunteer Fire Department, was thrilled
when he heard of the idea. 

"It would be a great idea because it would get teenagers involved," said
Lewis. 

Lewis feels many students who get bored with book work might like to take
the class. He said many volunteers have retired in recent years and members
of the younger generation haven't filled their shoes. However, a program
like this might help turn that negative trend around, he said. 

Even if a student who took the class didn't become a firefighter, he or she
would learn many essential life lessons and gain a greater appreciation of
those who serve, he said. 

Also, in today's busy world, some people who want to become a firefighter
simply can't because of time constraints, he said. 

"If all they had to do was fight fires they'd do it, but to go through all
the schooling, its tough," Lewis said. 

He likened the proposed fire and ambulance service class to other essential
classes school offer. 

"Driver's education helps parents teach kids to drive. This would help fire
departments," he said. 

He said students could get the classroom experience of firefighting at
school and the practical experience of firefighting from being around
firehouses and area firefighters. 

The program would allow high school juniors and seniors above the age of 16
to take the class as an elective course. 

Abe Amoros, spokesman for Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, said it would be up
to each individual school district to generate the funding. 

The state legislature's involvement in the program was to amend the state's
educational requirements to include the program, Blaum said. 

 

 

Randall W. Ruble

624 North Dutton 

Pittsfield, IL 62363

217-370-1051

FAX  303-736-7079  

 

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