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00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f771360000Keystone Crossroads: Rust or Revival? explores the urgent challenges pressing upon Pennsylvania's cities. Four public media newsrooms are collaborating to report in depth on the root causes of our state's urban crisis -- and on possible solutions. Keystone Crossroads offers reports on radio, web, social media, television and newspapers, and through public events.Our partner stations are WHYY in Philadelphia, WPSU in State College and witf in Harrisburg. Read all of the partner stories here.Pittsburgh’s WQED joins the collaboration as an associate partner. Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Sounding The Alarm For Volunteer Firefighters

Kate Lao Shaffner
Philipsburg fire chief Jeff Harris said it's harder to recruit new volunteer firefighters these days than when he began as a volunteer 36 years ago.

The idea of volunteer fire departments originated in Pennsylvania and it's certainly a hallmark of the state: around 90 percent of Pa.'s fire departments are volunteer. But these departments are facing big challenges. Volunteer numbers are down and for many municipalities, funding is an ongoing headache.

"I wanted to join to fight fires, not to raise money"

If you live in a smaller municipality in Pennsylvania, you probably have a volunteer fire department, which means you've probably encountered fire department fundraising events: maybe a carnival, a boot drive, or even a wedding reception at a rented fire hall.

In Philipsburg, the Reliance Fire Company held a dance at the bingo hall recently. Sherry Smith volunteered to cook and sell food. She said she's there because it's a good cause — a cause that's worth community members' time.

"God forbid, if their house [were] burning down," she said, "the firefighter company would do everything in their power to make everybody safe."

Read more of this report at the website of our partner Keystone Crossroads.