The Phoenix Reporter and Item (

Schuylkill Township firefighter recalls his passion as 2nd year as chief gets underway

By Gil Cohen, For 21st Century Media

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Jason Cole knows what to do when life gives him lemons.

For four years Cole made a living selling homeowners on the virtues and benefits of custom kitchens. Then the economy went south and so did the custom kitchen business.

“People tightened their wallets, demand fell off and custom kitchen jobs were scarce,” recalled Cole. While most people would worry about their financial security, Cole wasn’t worried at all: he knew exactly what to do.

During the previous dozen years, Cole was busy establishing for himself solid credentials in the field of emergency fire and medical services. As far back as his days as a boy scout, Cole was intimately acquainted with the fire service. His troop met regularly at the Valley Forge Fire Company in Schuylkill Township, Chester County. While there, he remembered, “you couldn’t help but get caught up in the fire service. I saw the different types of fire trucks. I spoke with the firemen and I heard the radio chatter.”

At the age of 16, he became a junior volunteer firefighter. Two years later, he became a full-fledged firefighter. Later, he added to his resume the duties of emergency medical service worker with West End Fire Co. No. 3 of Phoenixville Ambulance.

“I already had a nice foundation in the fire service,” said Cole, “so it was natural for me to move into the career side of things.”

Starting in 2008, Cole took paid positions with Horsham Fire Co. and Ambulance, Friendship Fire Co. No. 1 Ambulance of Royersford, Berwyn Fire Co. and Ambulance, and West End Fire Co., Phoenixville.

Although Cole depends on his paid assignments for his livelihood, he remains a volunteer member of Valley Forge Fire Co. In fact, he was recently re-elected for a second year as chief of the company.

“It’s not easy being a volunteer fireman and not getting paid for the work you do. You have to find something in yourself as to why you are doing this. I know where volunteers are coming from. I was—and am—one myself.

“The harsh winter that we have experienced gave us more calls to field, which meant we needed more volunteers to man our trucks. When you’re in the firehouse as often as we were, it’s important to have the proper accommodations. One of my goals is to re-configure the firehouse to make it a pleasant, homey atmosphere, where volunteers can relax between calls and enjoy such amenities as showers, bunk beds, recliners and a flat-screen television.”