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Plum/Oakmont

Holiday Park VFD in Plum to host fire academy for teens in June

Michael DiVittorio
| Saturday, May 26, 2018, 2:51 p.m.
Holiday Park Assistant Fire Chief Joe Susalla equips one of the junior firefighters with the department’s latest gear.
Submitted
Holiday Park Assistant Fire Chief Joe Susalla equips one of the junior firefighters with the department’s latest gear.
Holiday Park Assistant Fire Chief Charles Usher shows another firefighter the proper technique of how to handle a hose by yourself.
Submitted
Holiday Park Assistant Fire Chief Charles Usher shows another firefighter the proper technique of how to handle a hose by yourself.
A special stone in memory of Oblock Junior High teacher and librarian Susan Clancy-Pinal sits inside the recently dedicated Mustang Memorial Park.
Submitted
A special stone in memory of Oblock Junior High teacher and librarian Susan Clancy-Pinal sits inside the recently dedicated Mustang Memorial Park.

A Plum volunteer fire department is offering youths looking to become firefighters or wanting to learn more about fire safety and lifesaving some hands-on experience.

Holiday Park VFD will host a Junior Fire Academy from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 18-22 at the station, 415 Old Abers Creek Road.

It is open to boys and girls ages 14-17. Cost is $50 per cadet and includes daily meals, transportation to work sites and two camp T-shirts and shorts.

Participants are required to wear close-toed shoes. They can bring bathing suits and towels June 21 for water rescue training.

They will receive several certifications, including CPR, first aid, life flight safety, stop the bleed and fire behavior, which is recognized by the state fire academy, upon completion of the program.

A graduation ceremony is planned for June 22 at Larry Mills Park during the borough's Summer Fest.

Fire Chief James Sims said the camp is designed to build leadership skills, encourage camaraderie and hopefully build cadets' interest in becoming long-term members of the emergency services field.

“This is the first time we're doing it,” Sims said. “We're trying to expose them to what the fire department and EMS is all about. It's important because the volunteer fire service is shrinking in size.”

Sims said there were more than 200,000 volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania in the late 1990s. The latest fire service census, taken in 2014, showed around 75,000 active volunteers in the state.

“It's not just Pennsylvania,” Sims said. “The volunteer fire service as a whole has less and less people. It's going to come to a day if we don't start getting interest in the fire department, we're going to run out of volunteers. We've already seen a lack of manpower. Instead of calling three mutual aid companies, we're calling five or six to get the same type of manpower.

“Every fire department is in the same situation. Everybody's trying to do something different. We're all looking for volunteers.”

Holiday Park has 40 members but only 25 active firefighters.

The fire academy will feature vehicle rescue and doll house burn demonstrations. Guest speakers from Plum EMS and other fire departments will take part in lunchtime discussions.

Parents can pick up an application packet, which includes waivers and photo release forms, at the station or have it e-mailed to them.

Cadets do not need to be borough residents. Deadline to register is Friday.

Call 724-327-3456 or email info@holidayparkvfd.org for more information.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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