Thursday inside the Richland Township Volunteer Fire Department along Scalp Avenue, three men sat around a table plastered with stickers. The smell of fresh coffee wafted through the room.
“We run off of coffee and sugar,” said Tim Meyers, a volunteer fireman there.
According to Meyers, the department is the busiest volunteer fire department in Cambria County. He said the firefighters work as hard as they can.
“Sometimes it’s a little rough, but we do our best.”
Meyers is a junior at Pitt-Johnstown.
He said that he has to budget his time so he can properly balance school and volunteering.
“It keeps you thinking and on your feet.”
Meyers said that if students who live on campus decide to volunteer at the fire department, it would be like an extracurricular activity, except it would benefit the community.
“It’s a job that you hate to love. We love doing our job, which is helping people on possibly the worst day of their life.”
Fireman Mike Suckenik said that he is hooked on the job.
He said he joined originally because he was bored and wanted something to do. Now, Suchenik said he has found a family from being at the fire department.
Meyers said that working at the department gives him a sense of comradery.
“Every aspect of a family dynamic is here.
“It’s easy to come here in a bad mood, but then you get here, and you just start laughing.”
Meyers said a lot of the fire department’s workers use it as a getaway.
There are onlyabout three active women working at the department. Despite being a male-dominanted field, Suckenik said that recruitment is open to everybody.
Meyers said he joined the fire department because it runs in his family. As soon as he was old enough, he applied and has been a firefighter since.
Volunteer fireman Tye Porada said that he joined because it also a family thing.
He said he attends Penn Highlands Community College, and spends his extra time at the fire department.
Since the fire department is so busy, Porada said that balancing school and volunteering can be tricky at times, but they all manage it well.
Meyers said it would help to have more people interested in volunteering.
“If you’re interested, don’t be afraid to ask or stop in (at the fire department). Someone is always here.”