CLARKS SUMMIT — Rich Zackoski Jr. always knew he wanted to be a firefighter.
He started at Taylor Fire Company, where he was a lieutenant, captain and fire chief. He has been a volunteer firefighter at the Clarks Summit Fire Company for three years.
Zackoski works at Chapman Supplies as a driver, in the warehouse and at the counter. He is married to Wendy Zackoski and has a step daughter Jenna. His son Rich Zackoski III is a volunteer firefighter for Chinchilla Fire Department.
“Volunteer firefighting is stressful for the family,” said Zackoski. “You can get a call in the middle of the night or when you are at a party. My wife and I can be having dinner or watching a movie and I get a call. She will say “not again” but she is very understanding.”
“This is my hobby,” he said. “This is what I enjoy doing and helping out the community. I can’t speak enough about the community. They help out with fundraisers and it is very much appreciated. The fire company to me is like a second home and an extended family. Without the volunteers we would not be at your door or business when you need the fire department.”
The Clarks Summit Fire Company has six pieces of apparatus. It responds to many types of calls in Clarks Summit, South Abington Township, Newton Township, Ransom Township, Dalton, Justus, Mehoopany, Falls, Lake Winola and Center Moreland.
“Back in the 1970s and 1980s in the state of Pennsylvania there were approximately 350,000 volunteer firefighters,” said Zackoski. “Now there are less than 50,000 and the average age of a firefighter is in the 50s. People today don’t have the time to commit and it takes a lot of time. It is not just responding to calls but it also involves fundraising and maintaining equipment.”
New volunteers are always welcome at the Clarks Summit Fire Department. Stop by the station at 321 Bedford St. to pick up an application.