Last week, Lehighton Chief of Police Neal Ebbert told his borough council that there is a shortage of fire police in the borough.

He said of the entire fire police unit, only five members are under the age of 70. Because of dwindling numbers and the aging factor, fire police will not be able to assist with traffic control and parking duties at high school football games as they have for many years.

Anyone interested in serving in the fire police should contact Ebbert at the Lehighton Police Department at 610-377-4003.

In yesterday's TIMES NEWS, there was an appeal from the Bowmanstown Fire Company seeking volunteer fire police members.

The appeal said some members have recently stepped down and additional fire police are needed to help protect firefighters and the community during emergencies.

Other communities are in the same situation.

Last month, a member of the Summit Hill fire police organization became ill at an emergency scene and a day later passed away. She was just one member, but she left one heck of a void in the fire police because she was so active.

What do fire police members do?

They help with crowd and traffic control at fires, accidents, and other emergency scenes. They assist at other community events upon request such as sporting events, parades, and festivals.

Their job is hard and often thankless. Motorists sometimes yell at them, even call them names; especially when detoured around an emergency scene. They must work in all kinds of weather - sub-zero temperatures, stifling heat, blinding rain - often standing for hours outdoors.

But their job is so important. They prevent injury by keeping emergency scenes safe. They help firefighters and other emergency personnel by keeping unauthorized people away from where they are working.

During marathons and other civic events, their help is invaluable.

While some training is required, it's not as extensive as firefighters or ambulance personnel receive.

We all live busy lives. Both parents in a household work. People are working beyond retirement age. Other activities keep people busy.

Hopefully, there are enough individuals to fill the voids being created on fire police units.

Being a fire police member can be demanding, but it also is rewarding in the fact you are doing something for the good of the community, you are helping others, and you might be saving a life.

If you have some spare time, give the fire police a try. Contact your local police department or fire chief and volunteer. You're not obligated to respond to every call.

You will be making a big difference.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com