New firefighter program hopes to benefit area departments

Photo submitted - SMAHS students are shown in their turnout gear as part of the new firefighter course offered at the school. Shown from left to right are Pat Atchison, Austin Koch, Jack Cuneo, Olivia Mosier, Daniel Dumich and Mike Rusciolelli.
Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

As volunteer fire departments across the nation continue to struggle with gaining new, younger, members, St. Marys Area High School is hoping to make an impact locally by offering a new firefighter course.
At the conclusion of the course the six students currently enrolled in it will have a solid foundation for firefighting if they choose to become a firefighter.
Steve Bauer, high school teacher and 25-year member of the Crystal Fire Department in St. Marys, is instructing the course which is open to any high school student.
Together, Bauer is working with local fire departments in providing various training aspects to the students. Both Crystal Fire Department and the Fox Township Volunteer Fire Department have offered use of their fire stations and equipment.
"All of the chiefs are 100 percent behind it," Bauer said. "We're in a learning process and if we can at least get these kids excited about firefighting then hopefully they'll continue on after high school."
As a pilot program the course is not yet officially certified, but school officials are hoping to change that as they are assisting Bauer as he is working on becoming a certified instructor through the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy.