Volunteer Firefighters

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

In Pennsylvania, unless you live in a big city like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg or Erie, your fire department is almost certainly made up of volunteers.

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

In the 1970s, Pennsylvania had 300,000 volunteer firefighters, according to the State Fire Commissioner. That number has dropped to about 50,000, leaving some volunteer stations stretched thin and communities underserved.

Area representatives are supporting a bill that would waive background check fees for paid and volunteer firefighters and emergency response personnel.  

Sounding The Alarm For Volunteer Firefighters

May 6, 2015
Kate Lao Shaffner / WPSU

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.