Firefighters Call for Help

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Port chief unveils supporting corps

BY KEITH GOLDBERG

Port Jervis (CA) Times Herald-Record

The volunteers are looking for volunteers of their own.

The all-volunteer Port Jervis Fire Department is launching a support group it hopes will handle its non-fire-fighting duties, like maintaining equipment and coordinating fundraising events. Previously, those duties were the responsibility of the firefighters themselves.

Port Jervis fire Chief Joseph Kowal Sr. unveiled the PJFD Fire Corps at Monday's City Council meeting. He says the program will allow the department's nearly 150 active firefighters to concentrate on their fire fighting duties.

"We have all these men that have to be trained; it's a lot of time," Kowal said. "It just frees them up."

And he says it's a necessary step with the increased demand for fire services — fire and rescue calls in the district are up 25 percent compared to the same time last year. "Last year, we made about 400 runs. We're going to beat that easily this year," Kowal said.

The Fire Corps program is a component of Citizen Corps, a national community service program coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security.

Kowal contacted firefighters in Putnam County's Brewster, who had launched their own Fire Corps program, to see how effective it was. "They're having pretty good success with it," he said.

Kowal would like to get a base of 50 volunteers. He says he already has one volunteer signed up to do clerical work for the department.

"We have citizens who are willing to help," Kowal said. "A lot of them don't want to go into a burning building, but they want to help out."

For more information or to volunteer, visit the fire department's Web site at www.pjnyfd.com.

 

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