Editorial: Fire companies need more helping hands
The cliche about firefighters is always about those cats that get stuck up trees.
But sometimes, it’s man’s best friend that needs a little help.
On Saturday, Susan Erickson of Greenfield found that out when she and her golden retriever, Winnie, got into some trouble in Harrison Hills Park . The dog fell 100 feet down a cliff off the trail. Erickson was struck by a rock trying to retrieve her retriever.
They needed help. Citizens Hose Company 2 and Harrison Hills Company 4 came to the rescue.
The men and women at companies like these make differences in big and small ways all over the state of Pennsylvania, where few fire departments pay their firefighters. Instead, they rely on volunteers, like those that staff Citizens and Harrison Hills.
Volunteer firefighters have day jobs, or night jobs. They might be students or retirees.
It may take tones going off for lots of companies to get enough people to show up for the fire that threatens a whole downtown, like the one in New Kensington last month . It may take lots of companies just to get enough for a much smaller fire because, when it happens, many of the volunteers are at work and can’t leave.
It may take lots of companies because the pool of volunteers has gotten progressively smaller over the years, or because specific equipment is needed that not every company can afford.
It takes more and more cooperation between the volunteer companies to get the cats out of the trees and the dogs off the cliffs — and, oh yeah, put out the fires — because the only people who really understand exactly how hard the job is and how much help they need are the other people suiting up to grab a ladder or pick up a hose .
They need more money. They need more equipment and support. They need more volunteers.
There’s nothing we can do about that. The only thing we can do is give them credit for a job well done, a job they didn’t have to do, but chose to do because it needed to be done.