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Unity Township to test paying volunteer firefighters a stipend for daytime shifts

Westmoreland County township to test paying volunteer firefighters a stipend
Westmoreland County township to test paying volunteer firefighters a stipend 02:07

CRABTREE, Pa. (KDKA) -- The Unity Township Bureau of Fire has seven stations strategically placed throughout the township and starting on July 1, the bureau will be launching a six-month duty crew program.

This program will allow volunteer firefighters to be paid a stipend of $12 an hour for every 10-hour daytime shift worked. The idea to have paid fire crews in Unity Township all stems from the fact that calls for service are up and staffing during daylight hours is tough.

James Jellison Jr. is a volunteer firefighter in Lloydsville, one of the seven stations within the township, and he says that people are busy these days with work, family and kids. He also says that having an incentive program like this is a good thing.

"The program is not the answer to everything," said Jellison. "There definitely needs to be some steps forward after that, but this is a good program, and it is a good start for sure."

Shifts will be available to current volunteers on a first come, first serve basis and will only be on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Evening and overnight hours will be staffed much as they are currently.

And when these firefighters are not responding to calls, they will have a lot of work to do, from training to maintaining equipment to even recruiting.

Jerry DeFabo, one of the owners of Rizzo's Restaurant in Crabtree, likes this program and is happy that his home and business are going to be better covered by the local fire department.

"I think it is an idea that has to happen because no one is going to volunteer anymore," said DeFabo. "Nobody wants to be bothered and I don't think the protection will survive without them doing that."

This is a six-month trial program and if all goes well, there may be room in the future to have full-time, paid fire positions within the township. For more information on The Unity Township Bureau of Fire, click here.

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