Firefighter Training, Firefighting, Volunteer Fire Service

Volunteer Fire Department Consolidation in Pennsylvania

Issue 7 and Volume 167.

BY VICTORIA MIKULAN Approximately 73 percent of the fire departments in the United States are volunteer-based, and their members total to about 800,000. In Pennsylvania, the fire departments are 96.1 percent volunteer, and the approximately 1,500 Pennsylvania volunteer fire departments produce a tax savings of about $6.0 billion a year for state and local governments, according to a report by the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.1 However, many volunteer departments are struggling because of decreases in resources and funding. These problems have seriously strained the volunteer fire service in areas throughout the country but especially in Pennsylvania. The proliferation of volunteer fire departments resulted in part from neighborhood rivalries. Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann explains that some “white collar” fire departments would not respond to the “blue collar” neighborhoods, leading the latter neighborhoods to establish their own departments. Also, at one time, more departments were needed so that…

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