Emergency Housing

A typical day for Nursing major Reza Armaghan includes attending class, doing homework, cooking meals, doing household chores, and, on really busy days, responding to as many as six emergency calls from the public.

Left to right at the base of the firehouse's brass pole: Reza Armaghan, Justin Little, and Mike Sheehan

Armaghan, a senior Nursing major from Wilkes-Barre, lives at the Indiana Fire Association's new station, along with junior Safety Science majors Michael Sheehan and Scott Springer from Ebensburg and Justin Little, a Safety Sciences graduate student from Indiana. Armaghan, Sheehan, Springer, and Little do chores around the station and set up furniture when the station is rented for social engagements—and are on call for eight hours a day, usually at night.

All four students, certified firefighters for their home companies, don bunker gear with Indiana's own volunteer companies for fire and rescue situations.

According to Paul Koons, the fire association’s administrator, the relationship was born of necessity when the association built a station. The original station is situated next to the Indiana Borough office and police station, which is owned by the borough and has access to borough amenities.  The new station, located along Indian Springs Road near Indiana Mall, is supported by but not owned by White Township.

The association decided a second station was a must when the railroad tracks that cross Indiana Borough were put back into service for long, coal-carrying trains, which threatened volunteer response time. The White Township Fire Station, designed by local architect Tom Harley, features a fireman’s pole, a tower for hanging hoses (the tower roof doubles as a practice area for hose handling), and a museum that houses one of the association’s original trucks, a 1923 American LaFrance.

Koons and other fire association officials turned to Alpha Fire Company in State College for an example of how partnerships could work between fire companies and students.

“When we built this second station, we recognized we would have maintenance issues and would need twenty-four-hour coverage. The students receive free room and board in exchange for services rendered.

“You scratch our back, and we’ll scratch yours,” Koons said. “It’s working out great.”

Armaghan, who aspires to work in an emergency room setting as a trauma nurse, said, “In our crew, I’m the medical guy. We do a lot of rescue work, and I assess all the patients. This really complements what I want to do. It’s a great experience. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to do this kind of work.”