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Action News Investigation: Pennsylvania does not require volunteer firefighters to be trained


AS PART OF OUR ON GOING SERIES, WE INVESTIGATE FIREFIGHTER TRAINING. WE LEARNED THAT PENNSYLVANIA DOES NOT REQUIRE ANY FIREFIGHTER TRAINING. THIS IS NOT THE STANDARD PRACTICE ELSEWHERE. NO, IOWA AND WEST VIRGINIA REQUIRE 120 HOURS BEFORE A FIREFIGHTER CAN SET FOOT ON A TRUCK. IT MAKES THEM BETTER PREPARED TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC AND THEMSELVES. FIREFIGHTERS PREPARED FOR AN ATTACK. THE CREW GOES INSIDE OF A BURNING TRAILER. QUICKLY PUTTING OUT THE FIRE. THIS FIRE WAS SET BY TRAINERS AT THE WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY FIRE ACADEMY. ALL PART OF THE MANDATORY TRAINING REQUIRED OF ALL FIREFIGHTERS, PAID AND VOLUNTEER, IN THE MOUNTAIN STATE. INSIDE THE TRAILER, THEY CAN CRANK UP THE HEAT TO ABOUT 1100 DEGREES. THAT’S ABOUT AS HOT AS IS GETS IN A ACTUAL STRUCTURE FIRE. WE HAVE ALREADY TRAINED FOR IT. THEY ALSO LEARN HOW TO DO THIS — PUT OUT A CAR FIRE. THE ECONOMY DIRECTOR SAYS MANDATORY TRAINING IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT. THE PUBLIC CAN FEEL SAFE THAT THEY HAVE AN ADEQUATELY TRAINED FIREFIGHTER FORCE IN THEIR COMMUNITY. AND IT HELPS KEEP FIREFIGHTERS SAFE. IS THAT AN ASSURANCE THE FIREFIGHTERS HERE OUGHT TO HAVE AS WELL. IN A PERFECT WORLD, SURE, THAT WOULD BE GREAT TO HAVE. WITH THE WAY THINGS HAVE BEEN, JUST TRYING TO GET MINIMUM MANPOWER REQUIREMENTS, IT IS TOUGH. THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT THE FIREFIGHTERS SHOWING UP AT YOUR HOUSE ARE TRAINED. I COULD HOP ON A TRUCK AND GO TO A FIRE RIGHT NOW. IN ESSENCE, YOU COULD. THE AMOUNT OF TRAINING IS UP TO THE CHIEF. FIREFIGHTERS ARE TRAINED AT A SIMILAR LEVEL, BUT FEWER THAN 2% OF DEPARTMENTS HAVE ALL OF THEIR FIREFIGHTERS FULLY TRAINED. ONLY 15% OF THE STATE’S FIRE DEPARTMENT EVEN PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAM. IN THE DEPARTMENT, NOT PARTIES PAINTS IS CANNONSBURG. THE CHIEF IS ALSO THE STATE FIRE COMMISSIONER IN CHARGE OF RUNNING THE TRAINING PROGRAM. YOU’RE THE COMMISSIONER, RIGHT? YOU RUN THE TRAINING. I DON’T KNOW, I HAVE ONLY BEEN HERE THREE MONTHS, GIVE ME A CHANCE TO WORK ON IT. EVERY FIREFIGHTER THAT GETS TRAIN KNOWS IT’S CRITICAL TO WEAR A SELF CONTAINED BREATHING APPARATUS. SHOULD A CREW RESPOND TO A STRUCTURE FIRE WITHOUT THEIR SCBA EQUIPMENT. BUT SOME OF THE FIRST CREWS RESPONDING TO THIS FIRE EARLIER THIS YEAR MAY NOT HAVE HAD THEIR AIR TANKS. LISTEN TO AUDIO OF THE FIRE OFFICIALS TELLING THEM TO SUPPLY A MASKED CREW, OR FIREFIGHTERS WEARING SCBAs. WE’RE GOING TO NEED LINE PULLED, MASKED CREW INSIDE. I DON’T HAVE A MASKED CREW ON THE TRUCK. I’M GOING TO NEED YOU TO GIVE PUBLIC HIGHWAY MASKED CREW. THE FIRE QUICKLY SPREAD AND DESTROYED THE HOUSE, THERE WAS NO INJURED. THE CHIEF WAS NOT AT THE FIRE, BUT HE SAYS HIS FIREFIGHTERS TOLD HIM THEY DID HAVE AIR TANKS. MANY VOLUNTEERS IN PENNSYLVANIA, INCLUDING THE HEAD OF THIS DEPARTMENT, WANT MANDATORY TRAINING. YOU CAN’T TRAIN ENOUGH FOR A JOB LIKE THIS. IN WEST VIRGINIA THEY SAY PENNSYLVANIA FIREFIGHTERS WILL DIE ON THE JOB IF THEY DO NOT MAKE SURE ALL FIREFIGHTERS ARE TRAINED. I THINK THEY’RE PUTTING THEIR FIREFIGHTERS AT A HIGHER RISK, AND PROBABLY IT WILL CAUSE A LINE OF DUTY DEATH. AND WE THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT THAT WEST VIRGINIA FIREFIGHTER SAID SO WE CHECKED WITH FEMA. PENNSYLVANIA IS SECOND IN THE NATION IN LINE OF DUTY DEATHS. IN WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA, THERE IS NO DEPARTMENTS WITH ALL CERTIFIED FIREFIGHTERS. THOSE THAT DO INCLUDE PITTSBURGH, BUTLER, BEAVER FALLS. NOW MONEY FOR TRAINING IN PENNSYLVANIA AND WEST VIRGINIA COMES FROM A COBINATION OF

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Comments
  • A lot of states you aren't required to be certified as a firefighter and it's all up to the department what training they do. You can be just a member and still respond to calls.

  • How many of us belong to a department that can't be active on a call without going to the county fire academy for training ..

  • Talking about the Virginia training law, what about junior volunteer firefighters around the age of 14? They can't do much anyway, they are used as tool fetchers and do other things to help the guys working.

  • I run with 2 fire companies in the Tamaqua area. The rule of thumb here is until you have completed your essentials (200 hour training course split into 4 mods) you are not allowed to be internal on a working structure fire. We have drill nights every Tuesday from 6-9. Anyone without essentials is called a gopher. When someone without essentials arrives on scene they go to an officer and ask what they need them to do. If an officer is not available they work their way up the chain of command. There is way more to it than what this news report leads you to believe.

  • That LODD statistic is a bit inaccurate, they fail to note the fact that that list includes deaths due to natural causes within 24 hours of an emergency response/being on duty. Also something we have here in PA that many states don't have is fire police (who are usually older firefighters that can't respond as a firefighter any more but still want to help by protecting their brothers/sisters. Fire police are members of a fire company and are counted in the fire LODD criteria.

  • I'm not a PA firefighter, but I am a NY volunteer firefighter and I can guarantee you that all of us train. Many things are omitted in this news broadcast. One thing is that there are classifications of firemen, and those who "are not trained" to a certain standard are to be exterior firefighters, they cannot go inside of any structure and basically serve as help outside. That help may be anything from fetching tools to setting up ladders. So by this report, yes you can technically go into a fire department and not get training (other than department drills) and go to a fire, but no you cannot go inside of that fire. Another thing on the whole 'mask crew' thing, our fire apparatus carries the SCBA's, they're not at the station and possibly may be forgotten, they're inside of the apparatus that you take to the fire. This officer was probably referring to an 'interior crew' when he said mask crew, and that just means you have the proper training to don a SCBA.

  • Just more lies from the media. Yes in some states as a volunteer firefighter such as here in Mississippi you can respond to a call as soon as your placed on the station roster but what they aren't telling you is that while we may not have the "full" training with what they are referring to, we still train and we still know what we're doing. And if we don't know what we're doing when it comes to something than our chief ain't gonna have us do it. What they are referring to is flat out classes and in all honesty. Most experience is gained doing the work. Not in the actual classes. My first call I learned why more in the two hours I was on scene than I learned in a 12 hour class I had actually taken the week before.

  • DE does not require training either however you will not be allowed into a burning building unless you go to fire school.

  • I have heard that the best school is the Pennsylvania state fire school.! Of course it's great for the state residents.! I don't believe that every county in the state of Pennsylvania has a fire and EMS school

  • Funny, commissioner is more worried about a flag than firefighting training standard, and yet this is why PA is the Laughing stock of the fire service!!!

  • In my county, in order to operate inside of a burning building, you need to have a state regulated class. However, these are VOLUNTEERS. It's tough to take firefighting classes over having a job, and a family etc. Most departments do it like this: Untrained volunteers can respond to calls, but only do exterior work, which means hooking up hydrants, and getting tools ready. Trained volunteers are the ones who actually fight the fire inside of the building.

  • As a former Delaware County,Pa firefighter I was not allowed inside on structure fires unless I had my state certification from the state of Pennsylvania also goes for my ems training so to those of you who think we are idiots fighting fires think again we train just like our paid brothers and sisters

  • The only reason PA is ranked second in LODD is because the aggressiveness in fire suppression in the Northeast region of the US is not seen anywhere else in the world. Risk a lot to save a lot, and unfortunately states like NY, PA, MA, etc will continually have higher death tolls than other states

  • Start paying them and you will see productivity increase like it did when they decided to start paying volunteer paramedics

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