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Partnership aims to boost firefighter numbers

July 1, 2014 News Extra

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BUTLER TWP — Several Butler County organizations are partnering to raise $500,000 to help recruit and retain more volunteer firefighters.

County Commissioner Bill McCarrier said at a news conference Tuesday at Butler County Community College that Pennsylvania in 1970 had about 300,000 volunteer firefighters across the state, a number that has dwindled to about 50,000.

Those numbers represent an 80 percent drop in 40 years, officials said.

McCarrier, a former fire chief in West Sunbury, added that about 95 percent of all firefighters in the county are volunteers and warned that action must be taken now to help recruit new members.

That’s why the county is partnering with the Cranberry Township Community Chest and BC3 to raise the $500,000.

That money will go to buying a new fire emergency training trailer, which will cost about $130,000, to be used as an educational and recruitment tool for local departments. The trailer will be donated to the college’s fire academy and will be available for use by any of the 31 fire departments in the county.

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