CTCC’s firefighter training trailer debuts
Eagle Staff Writer
Written by:
By Kate Malongowski
July 5, 2015
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Chris DeCree Fire Prevention Coordinator shows the Fire Safety trailer during the dedication of the 2015 project of the Year volunteer Firefighter Initiative at BC3 on Thursday July 2, 2015.(Justin Guido photo)

BUTLER TWP — One of two new fire safety trailers — which can simulate smoke and even kitchen fires — made its debut Thursday at the Butler County Community College Public Safety facility.

Raising $392,850 over the past year for the two trailers and for 12 scholarships at BC3 for volunteer firefighters is the result of a countywide effort by the Cranberry Township Community Chest.

The group made the volunteer firefighter initiative its Project of the Year. That put a spotlight on the need to have more people volunteer to become firefighters.

One of the trailers, which will be used for recruitment, training and educational purposes, is for the Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Company and the other is for BC3 to train firefighters on-site and to lend out to any of the county’s 31 volunteer fire companies.

“It doesn’t solve all of the problems with volunteer firefighting,” said Bruce Mazzoni, the CTCC treasurer, a Cranberry Township supervisor and a BC3 Trustee, but he added having these resources certainly helps.

“It was a long project, a tough project,” Mazzoni said of the fundraising effort.

Out of the money raised, the fire safety trailers cost about $65,000 each, and more than $260,000 went to the scholarship fund.

The trailers are about 12 feet wide and 35 feet long, and provide seating for about 20 children. They include a kitchen area, where many fires start.

The blinds on the trailers’ windows shake and have lights resembling lightning to simulate a storm taking place outside. Another room can simulate a trash can fire and smoke.

Chris DeCree, a fire prevention coordinator with the Cranberry fire company, said the trailer is a big upgrade from the two-story fire safety trailer the department has used since 1993.

“It’s a great educational tool. We can show kids what to do, what not to do,” DeCree said.

Children are told that in the event of a fire, the most important thing to do is to get outside and to call 911 for help.

DeCree said he anticipates the fire department using the trailer for about 100 safety events in the coming year, mostly at schools and businesses. The trailer that will be at BC3 will arrive on campus in a few weeks, and it can be used by any volunteer fire department countywide.

Several hundred county residents and businesses donated to the initiative. The top donors were: ALCOA and MSA, each donating $20,000; and the First Energy Foundation and Westinghouse Electric, each donating $10,000.

County Commissioner Bill McCarrier, who was a firefighter for many years and served as the West Sunbury Fire Chief from 1961 to 1966, is an enthusiastic supporter of the project.

“I think this is a very important tool to help recruit for our volunteer fire departments,” McCarrier said.

He said firefighting was different when he did it compared to today. There was no formalized training 60 years ago while now firefighters have to be trained to deal with synthetic materials in fires, which can be more hazardous because of the toxic smoke synthetics can emit.

BC3 will provide $1,000 scholarships for up to 12 students in the county who are volunteer firefighters or who are working to become firefighters. The students can study any program at the college on a part- or full-time basis.

The endowed scholarship is renewable once for a maximum of $2,000 per person.

The first round of firefighter scholarships will be awarded for the fall semester.