About Your Fire Department
Elfinwild VFC: 100% Volunteer, 100% Dedicated
Since 1931, the Elfinwild Volunteer Fire Company has proudly served the residents of Shaler Township as an engine and rescue company.
We were also pioneers in emergency medical services (EMS) providing advanced life support ambulance service to the community until the charter of Shaler EMS (now, Shaler-Hampton EMS). We continue to provide emergency medical care through our Quick Response Service, providing care in our near neighborhoods for certain types of medical emergencies before the ambulance arrives.
WHAT WE DO
Elfinwild VFC: 100% Volunteer, 100% Dedicated
Providing fire, rescue, and medical services, our members have a variety of trainings and qualifications.
FIREFIGHTERS attend the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy’s Essentials of Firefighting – Entry Level Firefighter training program, provided by the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) or the Allegheny County Fire Academy (ACFA). Most of our firefighters are certified to the Firefighter I or II levels, in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1001: Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications.
RESCUE TECHNICIANS are trained in vehicle and rope rescue techniques, and work with neighboring services who can provide more specialized rescue services, such as trench and water rescue. The rescue technicians are certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES (EMS) PERSONNEL include Emergency Medical Responders (EMR), Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), Paramedics, and Health Professionals, certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Our EMS personnel are often first on the scene of certain serious ambulance calls in and around our district to bridge the time when we may be closer than the ambulance.
HAZARDOUS MATERIALS training is required of all personnel each year to assure that we can respond safety to chemical emergencies, and to keep residents and motorists safe.
MONDAY NIGHTS are drill nights. We may be training at the station, the fire training center on Little Pine Creek Road, neighboring fire stations, or even in the woods. Most trainings are from 7-10 PM, but some trainings require a bit more time. The first Monday of the month is meeting night, when various committees, officers, and the general membership meetings are held.
HOW WE RESPOND
Elfinwild VFC: 100% Volunteer, 100% Dedicated
Once someone calls 9-1-1, the Allegheny County 9-1-1 Center processes the location and nature of the call through a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system that nearly instantly identifies what emergency resources to send to help. This may include fire, EMS, and police units. Sometimes, this may include neighboring fire departments from Shaler Township, Ross Township, Hampton Township, Indiana Township, or the Borough of Etna.
Our members utilize several methods to receive the call. Radio pagers and the station siren are activated by the 9-1-1 center, and the voice dispatch gives us the nature and location of the call. We also use a system that sends dispatch information to smartphones and computers in the station and apparatus, which includes additional information, including mapping of the address and fire hydrants, special information about the property, hazards, and other pre-incident plans (preplans).
Members may be at home, the station, or anywhere, really, when the call comes in. Members may, with approval of the fire chief, use blue lights on their personal vehicle while responding to the station. Blue lights do not permit the driver to violate vehicle laws, but simply proceed as other motorists to permit you to “go ahead.”
Once at the station, the officer, driver/operator, or senior member acknowledges the call by radio, and determines the proper unit to respond first. The driver/operator will confirm the location and best route to take, and the responders don their personal protective equipment (PPE), and the ride begins. Some calls do not require the use of lights and sirens, but many do. The driver/operator must understand the laws of the road (and the laws of physics with a vehicle the size of an engine or rescue truck) to assure the apparatus and the crew arrive safely.
At the scene of the call, we may be fighting a fire, supporting other units with water supply and other activities at the fire scene, performing a rescue, investigating a fire or carbon monoxide alarm, or assisting police or EMS crews as they require. There are times when another unit arrives first and cancels our response. We must be ready for whatever we need to do, even if it means sweeping the street after a car crash.
After the call, equipment and apparatus must be readied for the next call, so cleaning, repair, maintenance, refueling, and re-stocking needs to happen. The officer will complete the documentation of the call, and sometimes will have a brief conversation with the crew to discuss the call, some lessons learned, and general announcements.
Our medical Quick Response Service (QRS) personnel may have the QRS truck (“Quick 6”) with them at home, so they may not need to respond to the station. Likewise, the personal vehicles of the fire chief and assistant chief are designated emergency vehicles by state law, and may respond to the scene with red lights and sirens.
Motor Vehicle Rescues
Rope Rescue Practice
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Federal law requires that we train to take defensive actions in the event of a chemical spill from trucks, trains, pipelines, and where chemicals are used or stored. This training exercise was part of our annual refresher training, and required our firefighters to identify the chemical and proper procedures in order to rescue the "victim."
Be careful with storing and using chemicals around the home. Your garage or garden shed may contain dangerous items. Store and dispose of properly, and NEVER mix chemicals!
We proudly participate in community events, such as the Shaler Area High School Homecoming Parade, Independence Day Fire Truck Rides, and other events. Here, the crews prepare for the 2019 Memorial Day Parade. From L-R, Lt. Rob Skertich, Lt. Dan Kalchthaler, Junior Firefighter Colin Wilker, Firefighter Joe Malley, Capt. Jake Kalchthaler, Firefighter/EMT Crag Bettinelli, and Medical Officer Brett Fadgen.
Follow the Shaler Township Facebook page for community events and other information!
At some motor vehicle accidents, we may not have to rescue someone from a trapped vehicle - we may just need to help with clean-up and traffic control. Firefighter Greg Hester and Medical Officer Brett Fadgen assist the police in opening the roadway.
Safe driving requires your full attention. Please, don't text and drive!
Firefighter Tim Gizzi often visits schools with other members for fire safety presentations. If your school or community group would like a presentation or tour of the fire station, please contact us.
Does your family have an exit plan? Visit our friends at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for more information!
The terrain presents challenges to removing injured persons from hillsides and woods. Our rescue technicians practice various methods of carrying, lifting, and lowering patients in specialized stretchers using a variety of rope equipment.
We can't remind you enough --- Wear your seat belt!
Homeowners and building occupants often smell smoke, chemicals, or "something not right." Our crews will respond with thermal imaging cameras ("TICs") that can locate hidden heat, and gas detection meters.
Sometimes, it might be something as simple as some overcooked microwave popcorn, or it might be something much more serious. When in doubt call.
By the way, when was the last time you cleaned out your dryer vent?
Operating the pumps also requires practice. At the Little Pine Creek Training Center, Firefighter TJ Funovitz and Firefighter/EMT Craig Bettinelli work with PA State Fire Academy Instructor John Rex during a Pump Operations course.
Interested in a rewarding challenge? Join us today!
Driving a fire engine or rescue truck is a lot different than a passenger vehicle. Our driver/operators are trained in the Emergency Vehicle Driver Training (EVDT) course by Pennsylvania State Fire Academy local level instructors.
When you see us on the road, remember, "Pull to the right for siren and lights!"
Motor vehicle crashes can be minor or quite serious. Our firefighters are trained in the use of special tools to free patients from vehicles, and work closely with the EMS and Police crews to assure that the utmost care is provided to all involved.
Do you wear your seat belt? ALL the time?
We approach every fire call with safety and effectiveness in mind. As an "engine company," our role focuses on getting water on the fire - "the wet stuff on the red stuff," as they say. We may be taking hoselines into a building ("making an attack") or supporting other engines and trucks with a water supply.
Where is the hydrant closest to your house? Can we see it? Shrubs, fences, and snow can block a hydrant and create serious delays.