Can Prisoners Help Boost Numbers Of Volunteer FIre Fighters In PA

A state Lawmaker believes prison inmates could be used to help address Pennsylvania's shortage of volunteer fire fighters. State Senator Dan Laughlin has proposed training low-risk state prison inmates to become volunteer fire fighters. At a recent Senate Appropriations budget hearing Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said the DOC is working with state Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego to determine how the training would be done. Wetzel said there's a "plausible path to do that training." However, Wetzel added that the planning process will take several months to complete. While there were some 300,000 volunteer fire fighters in PA in the 1970's, those numbers have dwindled to less than 38,000 today. About 90 percent of the state's fire companies are volunteer.