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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  •  Firefighters train with students

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  • With the aim to raise up another generation of emergency responders to serve their community, local firefighters took time last week to teach young hopeful counterparts from Wallenpaupack Area High School. Seventeen members of the High School’s Emergency Responder Club went on a field trip to Teeples Scrap Yard. There, among the wrecked and worn motor vehicles destined to be stripped for parts, they learned from seasoned firefighters what to do should someone be trapped in a vehicle. Their training was given by members of Hawley Fire Department, Tafton Fire Company and Forest Volunteer Fire Department. At a distance, one wouldn’t immediately know who was the firefighter and who was the student. Most of the students were in full turn-out gear, donning coats, boots and helmets like any good fire person. These students- both male and female- were already Junior Firefighters with their local fire department, and have been issued gear. Students represented Greene-Dreher, Lake Ariel, Greeley, White Mills and Hemlock Farms fire companies. Not every local fire company has junior members at this time, and each of the companies share in the concern for recruiting new volunteers. Wayne Rosengrant, Chief of Forest Volunteer, noted how these young people are really excited about Emergency service. “It’s very difficult to get volunteers and keep the,” he said, affirming they need young blood. “These are the firefighters of the future.” Hawley Fire Chief Scott Mead commented, “We love taking time off to help them out- they will be here to help us in the future.” Hawley only has a few members, Mead noted, in fact, he counted only about six who are active firefighters, and only three or four of them are the most available to respond to emergencies. Mead said he’d like to think he will always be able to do what he does now, but knows they need new members. “We hope to inspire some young people,” he stated. Fire companies must work together to survive, and to respond to emergencies. Mead said that the local companies do a lot of multi-company training. They rely on each other for a full complement when battling a fire. Chief Keith Nuss, Tafton Fire Company remarked about working with the club, “It’s nice to show them what goes on and stimulate interest- to get them to keep doing it.” He said he was surprised at how much interest there is among the youth. At Tafton, junior firefighters can start at age 14. Until they are 18 they are not allowed to enter burning buildings, but they provide valuable support work on the perimeter, such as fetching tools. The fire company provides the turnout gear and insurance. Shane Farnell, a Wallenpaupack Junior, is a junior member of White Mills Fire Department. “I like helping people and want to do it the safe way and be sure no one gets hurt,” he said. Senior student Sean Strohmaier, a junior member at Hemlock Farms Fire & Rescue, said he was inspired to join by friends and some family members who are fire company members. He said that the club is important to teach young people about emergency service. Colleen Edwards, the club’s advisor, said they are in their third year and participation has been growing. The club was initiated by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Joann Hudak, after meeting with local emergency services. Each month the club plans to meet some local agency connected with emergency services. In November they are scheduled to visit the Pa. State Police Honesdale barracks. Al Siebold, of Tafton Fire Company, is a retired career fireman of 29 years from New Jersey. He said he will be sharing with the club about career potential in emergency services. Expressing appreciation for the volunteer responders, Edwards added, “The time these volunteer emergency personnel willingly invest in teaching our club members is remarkable. The special bond that the emergency personnel are forging with the club members is another legacy they are giving to our communities as our future safety does rely upon recruiting young adults and inspiring them to dedicate themselves to community service and volunteerism.”
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