Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

#MeToo/Volunteer Firefighters

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, WITF's Smart Talk | Oct 17, 2017 8:00 PM
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On the Wednesday October 18th, 2017 edition of WITF's Smart Talk:

Pennsylvania was home of the nation's first volunteer fire company, founded by Benjamin Franklin 280 years ago. Today, volunteers make up more than 96% of the state's firefighting forces, working out of nearly 1,500 departments. Forty years ago, Pennsylvania had 300,000 volunteers fighting fires. That number has dropped to about 50,000.

Numerous factors have contributed to the decline in volunteer firefighters; the costs of training and equipment have increased substantially in recent years, the training requirements have become intensified and time-consuming and people simply don't have the spare time to volunteer that they once had.

Some departments are forced to combine resources and funds to stay operational.  Others are turning to local governments for increased funding; it costs $10,000 to equip a firefighter and fire trucks can run upwards of a million dollars. As Don Konkle, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fire & Emergency Services Institute told the Pennsylvania Township News, "You can't sell enough subs or barbecued chicken to raise that kind of money."

Smart Talk speaks on Wednesday's program with Konkle about ways departments can increase volunteer recruitment and the resources needed to keep volunteer departments adequately equipped, staffed and funded.  State Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay will join Smart Talk to pinpoint the reassons for these declines and we'll also speak with Duane Hagelgans, an assistant professor in Millersville University's Center for Disaster Research and Education and experienced volunteer firefighter.  

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Duane Hagelgans - assistant professor, Millersville University's Center for Disaster Research and Education; experienced volunteer firefighter / Don Konkle - executive director, Pennsylvania Fire & Emergency Services Institute / Tim Solobay - State Fire Commissioner

Also, the #MeToo campaign has taken social media by storm this week.  Actress Alyssa Milano asked women (and men) who have been sexually assaulted or harrassed to post MeToo on Facebook, Twitter and Instrgram and the response has been overwhelming. 

On Wednesday's Smart Talk, we;ll discuss what impact MeToo will have with Kristen Houser of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

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Kristen Houser - Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape

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 - The fire company's in the Shippensburg area recruit student volunteer firefighters who live at the fire station thus saving on the cost of housing while at college.  It's a great savings for the student and many of them have helped with volunteer firefighting in their community before they get to college.  The fire companies attend the student activities fair at the beginning of the semester to make students aware of this opportunity.                                                            - Mark

I always wanted to be a volunteer firefighter yet never committed and now I'm 56 so likely too old; are there other positions I could train for?          - Jim, West Lampeter Township

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