Study finds PA firefighters aging, declining in number

Written by Craig Layne and Radio Pennsylvania | Dec 9, 2012 8:50 AM

(Harrisburg) -- A new study from two advocacy groups finds Pennsylvania's fire companies are losing firefighters, and the average age of first responders is rising.


The Center for Rural Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute compared 2012 data to information from 2001.

It finds 36 percent of fire companies had a net loss in firefighters this year.

Center senior policy analyst Jonathan Johnson says researchers found a correlation between fundraisers and recruitment.

"The more fundraisers there are, the more likely they are to lose members," Johnson explains. "Fundraising events have a big impact on those who left, which is the really sad thing because fire companies need to raise money like any organization, but clearly it leads to burnout."

Johnson says in 2001, an average of roughly 18 firefighters would respond to calls.

The number has slipped to about 17 this year.

He adds fire companies losing members are generally smaller in size -- serving populations of less than 5,000 people.

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