People usually find it strange when Nick Bosga, Dalton Divers, Kevin “Jake” Gallich and Lauren Genovese say that they live at a fire station, but for them, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
The four live-in volunteers have made the commitment to go on calls 40 hours a week and in exchange, live at Fogelsville Volunteer Fire Company rent free.
“I think it’s the best thing in the world,” said Gallich, on the convenience of living at the station. “We can have the truck on the road in under 30 seconds.”
One of three stations in Upper Macungie Township, Fogelsville Volunteer Fire Company launched its live-in program in July of 2017 in an effort to bring in new blood as stations around the country face volunteer shortages. With four live-ins at the station, the program is only at half capacity, and is seeking four more live-in volunteers.
To join the program, live-ins must be 18 or older, full or part-time college students, or employed and working more than 30 hours a week. The live-ins share a crew room and bunk room equipped with a full kitchen, new appliances, a flat screen TV, PlayStation, new furniture and bunk beds. Additionally, there are separate locker rooms and bathrooms for men and women.
Bosga, Divers and Gallich have all been in the live-in program for about two years and firefighters for ten, six and seven years, respectively. Genovese is the newest recruit, joining a few months ago, and firefighting for three years. Working full time jobs, balancing personal lives and volunteering as firefighters, the live-ins would love to have more hands on deck.
“We have a crew on standby 24/7 at the station and have quicker response times in the community,” said Bosga. He loves being the first truck out the door and first on the scene of fire calls. It is great learning experience to arrive first, while other stations may not arrive until eight to ten minutes later. With more live-ins, trucks could be on the scene even faster and they could send two trucks instead of one.
“We run every single type of call living here from resident and industrial fires to car fires and hazmat incidents,” said Gallich.
Fogelsville Volunteer Fire Company responds to about 400-500 calls per year. Genovese was previously a firefighter in Monroe County and has the ability to go on a lot more calls at Fogelsville. “I joined the live-in program to have better opportunities and be closer to my goal as an EMT and career firefighter,” she said. “It takes countless hours of training and effort, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Genovese encourages other women to join as well. “Show the guys you can do what they can do,” she said. “It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight, but if you put the hard work in, you can do it. Don’t give up.”
Fogelsville Volunteer Fire Company is a great place for volunteers to get started in the firefighting field and there is a lot of room to grow. Bosga has been a Captain since January and Divers has been a Lieutenant for almost a year.
To become a live-in volunteer, Firefighter I or equivalent is preferred; however, the station will provide training for volunteers and prepare them. All Fogelsville volunteers receive free training and equipment. Additionally, live-in volunteers receive free gym memberships and there are incentive programs for the amount of calls they go on.
While the incentives are a perk, the live-ins really enjoy the adrenaline rush of calls, the comradery of living together and the pride of giving back to their community. “I’m so close with the buddies I live with and it’s great to work as a team on calls,” said Divers. “I also enjoy helping people and knowing I can be there for someone in need.”
Anyone interested in the live-in program, can express interest by filling out the contact form on umtfire.com and the Fogelsville Fire Chief Doug Gernerd will be in contact.
“Join a young and experienced group of firefighters,” said Gernerd. “The knowledge you gain and training you receive will be unparalleled.”
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