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Scholarships for Student Firefighters

Thanks to a FEMA grant, students who volunteer for Blue Rock Fire Rescue may receive $2,500 a semester.

Interested in going to college and serving as a volunteer firefighter? Thanks to a $296,000.00 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Millersville University students who volunteer for Blue Rock Fire Rescue may receive $2,500 a semester.

Dr. Duane Hagelgans

Millersville University’s Dr. Duane Hagelgans, professor of emergency management, was awarded this grant by FEMA to aid the Blue Rock Fire District. $200,000 of the grant will go toward recruitment and retention.

When a Millersville University student applies to volunteer at Blue Rock Fire Rescue, they become eligible for the scholarship money.  The scholarship money is $2,500 a semester.  The goal of the grant is to recruit 12 new student volunteers per year for the fire company.

“This is a win-win situation,” says Hagelgans. “The student-volunteers are awarded with scholarship funding to help them with their education. The local community benefits through the volunteer service of these student volunteers. Overall, the community wins by having more volunteers, the student-volunteers win because they get some financial help, plus they benefit by doing service to the community they call home while at the University.”

“I think another important point, in addition to the scholarship money, is the ‘give back’ by these student volunteers,” says Hagelgans. “We try to teach in our program that in life, it is not about what you take, but what you give back. These student-volunteers are fulfilling this mission at a young age, and hopefully, this mentality of caring about your community and giving back will remain with them throughout their lives, no matter where life takes them.”

The process Hagelgans went through to receive the grant was very competitive.

“The most difficult part of the process was the request,” says Hagelgans. “You need to spell out in great detail what you are asking for financially, how this will benefit the community, what success looks like, and why your agency should be chosen for these funds. It is a challenging process in that you need to balance the funding request against the return on investment.”

“While applying for a grant like this, you are in competition with emergency service agencies from all over the nation,” says Hagelgans. “Pennsylvania alone has over 3,000 fire agencies.”

In the 12 years of Blue Rock’s existence, Hagelgans has received several grants, but this is the first time Hagelgans has been awarded scholarship money.

The grants will start to be offered for the spring semester. Student volunteers who are now with or who join Blue Rock will be eligible.

For more information, contact Hagelgans at







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