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Lincoln Park VFD seeks applicants for live-in program

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Fighting fires is a passion for the Snyder family of Penn Hills.

Lincoln Park No. 221 Chief Shawn Snyder is a second-generation Penn Hills firefighter, following in the footsteps of his uncle and father, who is currently a life member of Penn Hills VFD No. 224 in the Point Breeze neighborhood.

Snyder began at his father's company when he was 16, and last week was recognized for a quarter-century of service, serving at No. 224 until 2004 as a lieutenant, assistant chief and chief, and currently at the Lincoln Park station, where he has served as both captain and now chief.

Snyder said the most important lesson he has learned in his 25 years is that there's always another lesson to be learned.

“You want to know your training and continue to do it no matter what,” Snyder said. “Always and forever, because everything is always changing. New things come out, new techniques … products and materials change.”

Over the years, Lincoln Park firefighters have increased staffing as well as the local services they provide to the community, including the station's live-in program, which is currently seeking applicants.

“Other departments in the areas surrounding Penn Hills had been doing it for years,” Snyder said.

“There aren't many, but we started it and it kind of took off and has become a success.”

Snyder said live-ins “pretty much have everything they want: TVs, surround sound, Xbox, a kitchen, weight room, study area.

“It's pretty much a college-dorm-type feel,” he said.

Live-ins are tasked with maintaining a full-size fire station and answering calls. And while the program can be ideal for a college student looking for a break on housing and a leg up on their education, it is not exclusively for those of college age.

Robert Williams, 26, of Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood, has been part of the live-in program for three years. He has previous firefighting experience in McKees Rocks and Washington County.

“We have fun,” said Williams. “There are four guys here regularly and one guy who bunks in on the weekends. It's a really good group of guys, and we get all our work done.”

Williams agreed with his chief on training: it never stops.

“We got a ladder truck recently, and we're doing training every day learning how to use it,” he said. “Also, probably half of our calls are with companies outside of Penn Hills, and we train with other local departments for just that reason.”

There are five members of No. 221's live-in program at present, and the station can accommodate up to eight, Snyder said.

Williams said he loves being a live-in firefighter.

“I get to meet a lot of great people, both inside and outside the department,” he said.

For more information on the live-in program, call Penn Hills VFD No. 221 at 412-241-9285 or email phvfd221@verizon.net.

Patrick Varine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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