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Student follows firefighting call from Germany to Williamsport

July 12, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

WILLIAMSPORT - When Patrick Schepelmann came to Williamsport last August in an exchange program, he knew right away he wanted to become involved with the fire company there.

"He ran with the fire company in his hometown of Celle, Germany," Williamsport Fire Chief Rob Hoover said.

Schepelmann approached the firefighters shortly after he arrived in the community.

Schepelmann, 21, finished his education in Germany. He was working in marketing with Susquehanna Bank in Washington County until recently.

Schepelmann said he took courses in business, economics and music at Hagerstown Community College.

He has been living in Williamsport with his host mother, Korby Moss Sanders, who teaches music at HCC.

"He is in a program through HCC with the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange, which began in 1984," Sanders said. "It's my second year hosting, and I like it."

Schepelmann said the fire company for which he volunteered in Germany is much smaller than the one in Williamsport, but there are some major differences.

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"The community funds us through taxes," Schepelmann said of his German fire company.

And in Germany, while there is central dispatch of emergency equipment as there is in the U.S., the emergency number is 112 instead of 911.

"I got trained here," Schepelmann said. "And I have run on a few calls."

Jay Grimes, president of the fire company, said it is departmental procedure for all volunteers to be trained at the company.

"He went through the 30-hour program, which includes basic firefighting, hoses and turnout gear," Hoover said.

Now that his stint is nearing an end, Schepelmann is going to do some traveling. He already has been to Florida, and up and down the East Coast. A trip to California is in his plans.

"We will be sorry to lose him," Grimes said.

Hoover added that the experience was a good one for everyone.

Sanders said she will be glad to sponsor a young person again in her home.

Anyone interested in more information about being a host family may call Sanders at 301-790-2800, ext. 317, or Sarah Barron at 212-497-3512.

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