Pennsylvania – A state commission of firefighters and EMS crews are saying first responders are in a major crisis. 50 years ago in the 1970s, there were 300,000 volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania. Now that number is just 38,000.

The commission released a report with 27 recommendations to increase the number of people who volunteer. This includes adding incentives to help recruit first responders, as well as expanding the office of the state fire commissioners, and providing state funding for basic EMS and fire training.

Requirements for becoming a volunteer firefighter vary by fire department. Most departments require firefighters to be 18 years of age or older and hold a high school diploma or the equivalent. Candidates are generally required to pass written and physical exams, drug screenings and background checks. Some departments may require volunteer firefighters to hold a valid driver’s license and live within a department’s service area. Many employers prefer applicants who demonstrate strong decision-making skills, dependability and bravery.

If you’d like to learn more about volunteering with your local fire company or EMS crew, reach out to them to talk about the requirements and how to get started.