firefighters

Fire Director Steve Bair stands in front of a fire truck
Min Xian / WPSU

The Alpha Fire Company in State College is proposing a huge increase in its annual stipend for volunteer firefighters. The proposal underlines the difficulty in recruiting volunteer firefighters across the state.

The 96 volunteer firefighters at Alpha earn a stipend of about $560 a year when they work a minimum requirement.

Fire Director Steve Bair proposes an increase in that stipend. If approved, the volunteers would get about $1,000 next year and around $5,000 a few years from now. The funding will come from local taxpayers.

Sounding the Alarm for Volunteer Firefighters

May 8, 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.