Hon­or­ing SCHUYLKILL county FIRE­FIGHT­ERS

The Republican Herald - - FROM PAGE 1/POLICE/COURT - Robert Ryan, chief Clover Fire Com­pany, Heckscherville

Snow brought Robert Ryan and the Clover Fire Com­pany in Heckscherville to­gether. His fa­ther was a mem­ber of the com­pany and, when Ryan was 15 years old, his dad asked for help shov­el­ing the ramp so the trucks could get out if needed. “So ev­ery­time it snowed I shov­eled… soon I was help­ing, around the trucks.” Now, al­most six decades later Ryan is the chief.

Although the com­pany has 22 trained mem­bers, Ryan ad­mits that their count fluc­tu­ates. “It comes in spurts. Peo­ple move away, they come back… we have guys on third shift, work­ing in Hazleton, in Read­ing.” So, for each call all three Cass Town­ship fire com­pa­nies re­spond along with Min­ersville to en­sure that there are enough peo­ple to han­dle the call.

Ryan ac­cepts the idea of merg­ing, ex­plain­ing that Cass Town­ship has taken the first step by ap­point­ing one fire mar­shall/emer­gency man­age­ment co­or­di­na­tor. He hopes that even­tu­ally the three com­pa­nies can cross train while still main­tain­ing their own iden­tity through their so­cial events and build­ings. With cross train­ing, all the Cass Town­ship fire­fight­ers will be fa­mil­iar with each other’s per­son­nel and equip­ment and can work to­gether as one large com­pany.

“Chiefs need to know their peo­ple and how far they’ll let them go.” Ryan wants to take a page from pro­fes­sional com­pa­nies in cities by color cod­ing fire hel­mets of all three com­pa­nies so that, no mat­ter who is in charge of a call, they know the abil­i­ties of all the fire­fight­ers on the scene. “Red for com­pleted train­ing but still new, yel­low for those OK to en­ter a build­ing…”

Since Ryan started shov­el­ing snow many things have changed. “Com­put­er­ized trucks! They can tell you how much hose, how much wa­ter [you’re us­ing].” Ryan ap­proves of train­ing that is “more safety ori­ented” but points out that years ago train­ing in­cluded fight­ing fires set in oil pits at Lake­wood. Some peo­ple com­plete train­ing and only re­al­ize when faced with the real thing, that they can’t go into a burn­ing build­ing. But years of fire­fight­ing have made Ryan quick to ad­just. “If they can’t go in­side they can be a driver, they can re­lieve peo­ple who can go in. We never turn peo­ple away.”

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