Tyler Huber said he’s embracing a new challenge in life.
The 19-year-old Hastings native recently earned his black helmet – making him a member of the Richland Township Volunteer Department.
“I moved from probation to regular firefighter status,” Huber said in an interview at the Scalp Avenue fire station, where he is a live-in member.
His firefighting helmet now has a black shield, replacing the orange shield worn by new members.
“It’s a rewarding challenge,” he said.
Huber, a 2019 graduate of Cambria Heights High School, is not new to the fire service. He learned what it takes to be a firefighter at age 16 when he joined the Hastings Volunteer Fire company.
Huber is part of a family legacy, following his dad Gregory Huber into the fire service.
“When I was growing up, he was always telling me stories,” Huber said. “All my life, I’ve been interested in emergency services. I’d love to move into the career fire service.”
Huber became one of six live-in Richland members when he moved into the firehouse quarters in August.
For the next five months, he plowed through a three-part, 20-page manual.
“We want you to learn how to use the equipment and where it’s located,” fire Chief Wes Meyers said. “It’s not easy when you have two engines, two trucks, a heavy rescue truck and a special service vehicle.”
Huber said he put his newly learned skills to work.
“This department runs a lot of calls,” he said. “I’ve been on everything from house fires to vehicle accidents to EMS calls.”
Learning how to forcefully enter a burning building and how to free people from crashed vehicles takes time, he said.
“It’s not something you pick up right away,” Huber said. “But the guys here are really, really good at it and walk you through it. They’re experienced guys who have done this for years.”
Huber, like so many other volunteers, considers the fire service a family.
“It’s a team effort,” he said. “You really feel like you’re part of a big team, and you’re not going at it alone. You build a brotherhood and sisterhood.”
When he’s not tending to his duties at the fire company, Huber is working at The Meadows in Ebensburg or attending classes at Conemaugh School of Emergency Medical Services on Franklin Street in Johnstown.
Meyers is hopeful Huber will continue to learn and grow into the job of firefighter.
“Tyler’s a young guy,” Meyers said. “He’s a very valuable member of the department.”