If you build it, they will come.
That’s Upper Allen Township Fire Department’s motto as they build a new fire station in hopes of attracting more volunteers that are desperately needed across the nation.
“In order to attract people, you need to have a nice facility because people don’t want to volunteer their time to come out to something that they always have to repair,” said Fire Chief James Salter.
The new firehouse will cater to college recruits from Messiah and HACC who learn the ropes for firefighting and, in turn, earn boarding.
“We extend free room for them and then they’re available. They’re first out on the fire apparatus. So, it really is a mutually beneficial arrangement,” said Ken Martin, president of the township board of commissioners.
“They’ll have their own private room with a desk, their bed, and their dresser, and they’ll have their own private shower and bathroom,” Salter said.
Messiah student Nicholas Descola plans to enroll in the live-in program when the new fire department is complete in eight to nine months.
He’s from the Philly area, but he wants to keep working at Upper Allen Fire Department after school.
“The fact that you get to run calls and then when you get back, you get to stay with them, hang out, cook food, and help the community out as much as possible,” Descola said.
With hot spots like Route 15 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike located in Upper Allen’s coverage area, the new building will save lots of lives.
“The more members that you have on your firehouse, on station at a time, the effectiveness of us getting out is drastically increased,” Salter said.
Even though the township received several grants and the commissioners put aside money for the $3.5 million project, there is still a long way to go.
The fire department will be holding fundraisers throughout the year, including a holiday Christmas tree sale.