Three junior firefighters raise funds, purchase UTV, trailer for fire co. | News, Sports, Jobs

Three junior firefighters raise funds, purchase UTV, trailer for fire co. | News, Sports, Jobs

Pictured above and below is the 2022 Polaris Ranger UTV that was recently purchased from funds raised by three of Walker Township Fire Company’s Junior firefighters.

HUBLERSBURG — Last year, three 17-year-old friends teamed up to work on their senior class project together.

The three focused their project on the Walker Township Fire Company where they all are junior firefighting members. The boys set high goals for their project.

The first goal was to raise $50,000 to be able to purchase a new UTV and trailer without the fire company having to obtain a loan. Their second goal was to get the UTV and trailer before their graduation in June.

Dylan McCloskey, Nolan Weaver and Derek Fravel have been best friends since elementary school and were looking forward to beginning their senior year at Bellefonte High School together. The trio were deep into their senior project’s fundraising efforts — which already included holding a golf tournament last August, a Hoss’s community night and helping with an event, “Under the Lights,” at Talleyrand Park in Bellefonte. The boys partnered with the Hublersburg Hotel for fundraising, too. There were also collection cans placed to gather donations in many of Bellefonte and Zion’s stores and businesses.

As the boys settled into their school routines, McCloskey and Weaver were practicing and playing their senior year of high school football and Fravel was counting down the days until spring when he would be playing his final season of baseball at Bellefonte High.

Pictured are members of the Walker Township Fire Company standing in front of the station’s new cargo trailer that will be used to transport UTV 16 and it will also serve as a mobile command unit. The trailer was recently purchased with funds raised by three Junior firefighters as their senior class project. Left to right: Chloe Roan, Jr. Firefighter; Matt Brungard, Assistant Fire Chief; Dylan McCloskey, Jr. Firefighter; Chris Roan, Fire Chief; Nolan Weaver, Jr. Firefighter; Shannon Russell, Firefighter; Derek Fravel, Jr. Firefighter; Bill Shaffer, Forest Fire Warden; and Jim Heckman, Forest Fire Warden.

The boys were also busy selling raffle tickets for a Blackstone griddle that would be given away during the fire company’s annual cash drawing in September. Little by little, and as every coin and dollar bill was counted, the boys were steadily chipping away at raising the $50,000 needed to get the emergency equipment.

The young firemen were also instrumental and involved with applying for a Department of Community and Economic Development grant through Senator Jake Corman’s office.

By early March the overwhelming news that the young trio had exceeded their goal of $50,000 arrived. With the community’s enthusiastic help, close to $55,000 was raised by the boys. The fire company was also successful in obtaining the DCED grant. The young firemen were ecstatic that they wouldn’t have to cut costs or do without certain optional equipment when they ordered the brand new 2022 Polaris Ranger and its cargo trailer.

Using the Department of Defense’s website, the order was placed for the new Polaris 4-wheel drive, four door UTV with a snow plow and wench at a price tag of nearly $40,000. The custom-fitted fire rescue skid would have a 70 gallon water tank, a three gallon foam tank and pump, a 75 foot hose reel and two additional discharges and suctions.

The 16 foot long cargo trailer was purchased from East End Trailers near Lamar and with the custom lettering the price came to a little over $10,000. While waiting for the new UTV’s delivery, the firemen worked in their station to add some conversion and customized touches to make the trailer capable of being a mobile command unit when it’s on the scene of emergency situations. A new generator will allow it to provide air conditioning during the hot months and also offer warmth to the firemen during wintertime emergencies. The unit is known as Centre County’s Station 16 Trailer.

The UTV finally arrived, after being shipped from the state of Indiana, well before their graduation date which was another goal accomplished.

After some training in early April with using the equipment properly and safely, and once the decals were put on it, the new UTV was put into service and is now known as UTV 16. It will be used for remote search and rural rescue operations and fighting wildfires. The Jr. Firemen were also able to equip the UTV with a Stokes basket with the funds from donations they had received.

Matt Brungard, Assistant Fire Chief of Station 16, who serves as one of the fire company’s mentors to the young firemen, said that “he could not be more proud of the boys and their accomplishments. These three have really been good, young men to have as part of our team. They’ve wanted to learn firefighting skills and they have become a vital part of our station. We are really happy to have them here and involved like they are.”

Not only did the trio set goals that they exceeded together, they have been setting personal goals for their lives and careers. Each graduated from Bellefonte High School on June 9 and is looking towards his future.

Dylan McCloskey has a desire to study criminal justice at Lock Haven University in the hopes of becoming a police officer. “I want to thank everyone who helped with our fundraisers. The community really stood behind us and that’s why we were able to make and exceed our $50,000 goal to get the new UTV and trailer,” he said.

“I also want to thank the more experienced fire company members for showing me how to do things at the station and when we were out on emergencies. I have learned a lot from them and while being involved with the fire company,” McCloskey added.

Nolan Weaver planned to apply to West Point or to the Naval Academy to serve his country. “I’m also considering Penn State University’s ROTC program. I’d eventually like to become a police officer or a paid fireman,” he said.

Derek Fravel, a pitcher on Bellefonte’s baseball team, helped his teammates to win the District 6-4A Championships a few weeks ago. When asked what position he played when not on the mound, Fravel’s reply was “I play wherever they need me.”

Fravel has accepted a scholarship to Seton Hill University near Pittsburgh to play baseball while studying criminal justice. “My dream is to become a police officer,” he said.

“These boys have done good things for our department. Our station is open to others, whether they be junior members at age 15 or 16 or those who may be older, who would like to become involved and train with us,” said Walker Township Fire Chief Chris Roan.

As the three young firemen venture away from the Hublersburg area in their college and career choices, “Our doors will always be open to them. We want them to come by the station to catch up when they are able to come back home. These boys are a big part of our fire department family, and we want the very best for them,” said Brungard, and his sentiments were echoed by other members at the fire station.

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