Mercyhurst College students can now take part in the Perry Hi-Way Hose Company Live-In Program. The fire department will provide participating students with free housing in exchange for performing station duties and responding to fire and emergency medical service (EMS) calls.
Several fire companies in the state, including the Alpha Fire Company in State College, have offered similar programs. Perry Hi-Way recently completed building a new station to accommodate the program, which will increase the number of volunteers and reduce response times.
“We are offering this program due to the fact that our number of volunteers are decreasing and the number of calls are increasing,” Fire Lt. Daniel Hunt said.
“At times our response times are around eight minutes just to get out the door due to people responding from work or school. If we had students that lived at the station between classes, we could get a truck on the road in three minutes or less. So this is a mutually benefiting arrangement,” he said.
In addition to free housing, students would receive real-world experience in the emergency medical field. Firefighting and technical rescue also demonstrates dedication and discipline, which looks great on any job application.
Hunt also pointed out how rewarding it is to “help someone who is having the worst day of their life.”
“We are like a big family at Perry Hi-Way, and we take care of each other. We have cook-outs and softball games in the summer and a banquet every January to recognize everyone’s hard work,” Hunt said.
“If adventure is what you are interested in,” Hunt said, “try cutting a hole in a roof as fire comes up to meet you, or rappel over a ledge into a ravine at night to stabilize an injured hiker. These are just some of the scenarios we find ourselves in while on the job.”
Perry Hi-Way Hose Company requires that a live-in maintains a part-time registration at a local college or university and a minimum stay of three nights per week at the fire station. They also require a live-in to obtain the minimum requirements of Pennsylvania Essentials of Firefighting and Pennsylvania, and the station provides additional firefighting training at no cost.
Further, the Perry Hi-Way Hose Company holds a Voluntary Rescue Certification through the Pennsylvania Department of Health and a Silver Level Pennsylvania Fire Service Certification Program through the Office of the State Fire Commissioner. Both achievements were a first for Erie County.
Program participants must be 18 years or older, and students with fire department and EMS experience are especially welcome.
Anyone who is interested can receive applications from www.perryhiway.com under the files tab or by going to one of the stations on Monday night at 6:30 p.m.
Students can also contact Chief Gretchen Hayford at (814) 864-0680 or Fire Lt.Daniel Hunt at (814) 599-4368.