Brockway Fire Department Holds Recruitment Day

BROCKWAY, Pa. (EYT) – Recent declines in volunteers have impacted fire departments across the country, and the Brockway Volunteer Hose Company is no exception. To combat that trend, the fire department is offering an event to showcase being a firefighter.

The fire department is hosting a recruitment day on Sunday, October 13, at 10:00 a.m.

The event will be held at the fire hall in Brockway.

The Pennsylvania Senate released a report that called the state of volunteer fire departments a “public safety crisis.” In that report, the state said that it had 300,000 volunteers back in the 1970s. The number has dwindled to 38,000.

“It’s hard to get volunteers involved everywhere,” Brockway Borough Council President Chris “Smoke” Benson told

“When that happens in emergency services, it’s a real problem.”

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen a drop in manpower,” Brockway Fire Department Captain Mike Hoskavich said. “In 2016, we averaged 12 members a call. We’re now down to 10. Four of five of those people are fire police, so now you’re down to seven or eight members on a call.”

Fire departments in the area work together to provide full coverage, but Hoskavich said that every fire department is facing the same problem. That is why the fire department is hosting the event.

“What we’re trying to do is have a day where people can come in and see what it’s like to be a firefighter,” Hoskavich said. “We’re trying to spark some interest. We’ll show them what it’s like to put on the gear, to work a hose line, even run the fire siren on the truck. The fun things to do. We hope to get some members of the community to join.”.

Hoskavich said that there are some barriers to joining, but he feels that a little education can get community members past those barriers.

“I think volunteerism on the whole is in a decline,” he said. “The level of training today is a lot. When Terry [Fustine, fire department president] joined, it was 16 hours of training. When I joined in 1992, it was 60 hours. Now it’s 168 hours of training. The hours you have to put in, it scares people.”

While there is a huge time investment, volunteers do not have to pay for the training.

“The company picks up all the training costs, all the gear,” Hoskavich said. “That’s paid through tax money and all the fundraisers we do.”

Fire departments have to do a lot of fundraisers. Brockway participates in the Tri-County Gun Bash as well as selling donuts and other fundraisers. The training and the fundraisers seem to dull the fun of being part of the fire department.

“One of the things you see with this level of training is people saying that they take the fun out of the fire service,” Hoskavich said. “While what we do is serious, it’s a profession even though we’re volunteers, but it’s also fun. Even going down the road blowing the siren is fun. It’s flat-out fun.”

The t-shirt available to attendees.

The goal of the event is to give attendees an overview of what it means to be a firefighter in Brockway. Those who choose to come will learn how to put on the gear, how to pull a hose line, what it feels like to have water going through that hose, and how hard it can be to cut open a car. The department will have a car on site to cut open.

“We spend just as much time here as we do at home or in our careers,” Hoskavich said. “Hopefully, this will peak people’s interest. It will give them an overview of what it’s like to be a part of our agency.”

Anyone interested in attending the event can call the Brockway Volunteer Fire Department at 268-4000 or send a messenger through Facebook. However, the department will not turn anyone away if they show up at the event. Refreshments will be provided along with a Brockway FD t-shirt.

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