The partnership between the Orbisonia-Rockhill Volunteer Fire Co. and the Public Health and Safety Program at Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center continues to grow, as the program will now be aided by more equipment to help train the next generation of those who wish to enter the fire service.
In 2019, the 1973 Ward LaFrance engine was purchased from the Orbisonia-Rockhill Volunteer Fire Co. by Crist Fellman, public health and safety instructor at HCCTC for use in training his students in firefighting techniques.
This year, Orbisonia-Rockhill fire chief Matt Gilliland said the fire company is donating equipment to help further aid the public health and safety program at HCCTC.
He discussed some of the items they are donating.
“We are donating 3,000 feet of hose for their engine pumper, a rescue tool with cutter and spreader for vehicle rescue, a thermal image camera, and an air cascade compressor system, he said.
The reason for the donations is simple — they want to see the program continue its success.
“We have donated a lot of equipment to this cause, we would like to keep the program and the fire department in front of the public,” said Gilliland.
Gilliland said they were able to purchase a new fire engine in 2018 thanks to an Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for $463,500, in addition to purchasing self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) air packs for $141,000.
In 2019, Gilliland said more AFG grants from PEMA enabled the fire company to use $44,000 for a new cascade compressor system, $12,000 for new hose and nearly $20,000 for new rescue tool and cutters.
Knowing this equipment is very expensive to purchase, Fellman is grateful that his students can now use this equipment for training.
“I know (HCCTC) wouldn’t be able to purchase the kind of equipment we get in donations from fire companies in the county,” said Fellman. “I know people like the idea of donations of equipment that have reached the end of its useful life on the front lines, but can be used for training.”
It also shows how fire companies take care of their equipment long past their useful life that it can still be used for training purposes.
The hydraulic rescue tools that have been donated from the fire company, just as one example, were tools that were originally purchased in 1969, and they were also tools that Fellman used when he was a member of the Orbisonia-Rockhill Volunteer Fire Co. in the late 1970s.
For Gilliland, giving back to aid future first responders means that indirectly, the fire company, as well as other fire companies around the county, can recruit the graduates of the public health and safety program to fire companies all across the county.