Years of raising money through the Willing Hearts Capital Campaign — which helped construct live-in quarters for firefighters at Fame Fire Company in West Chester — have proven successful not only for the fire department, but also the community.
Since 1838, Fame has served West Chester and surrounding areas as a part of the West Chester Fire Department all while being a fully volunteer organization.
The Live-In Program was created to reduce response times and engage students from West Chester University and other educational institutions to volunteer. Students are recruited to serve the community while being given free dormitory-style accommodations and amenities, along with the chance for Exchange Club-sponsored scholarships.
Since its inception in November 2020, the program has been able to house students and other volunteers full-time and bring down the response times to emergencies from 5 minutes and 43 seconds in 2018 to 2 minutes and 13 seconds in 2022. In order to accomplish this feat, each volunteer has participated in more than 332 hours of intense training just in 2022.
“With the Live-In Program, staff are able to respond much quicker, ultimately providing often lifesaving or preventive care to those who need it,” said Dan Dixon, chairperson of the program.
Precious minutes have been saved thanks to the ability to house the live-in volunteers.
Last year, Fame responded to more than 500 fire and rescue calls across a 27-mile radius of Chester County to protect over 55,000 residents, all while maintaining full-time jobs to support themselves and their families.
“Fame has always had a good relationship with the county,” said Mike McCarthy, president of Fame. “Being part of the West Chester Fire Department and a fully-volunteer team means that we also save the community more than $3 million annually.”
Despite all that Fame and its live-in program have done for years, the campaign is not over yet. There is still a $500,000 loan that covered construction costs in order to make the facilities operational immediately for the safety of the community. Fame Fire Co. hopes to retire that loan with help from the community.
While the department hosts fundraisers and raffles, it is not enough to cover the loan repayment. It would take 15 years for Fame to retire the loan on its own when they need to spend their time doing the most important thing: aiding those who need it.
Donate to the Fame Fire Co. today and learn more about the campaign.