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PURCHASE LINE: Two seniors join volunteer fire departments

by SIERRA BERRINGER, Gazette Student News Reporter on February 28, 2014 11:00 AM

PURCHASE LINE — At Purchase Line High School, students are going outside of the classroom to show risk, bravery and, overall, courage. Seniors Brianna Riva and Ethan Koziel have both joined their local fire departments as firefighters.

Though neither one of them have run into into a burning building, they do provide relief and safety for those who do. Riva has been a volunteer firefighter for about a year and a half, starting when she was 16 years old.

When asked why she joined the Commodore Volunteer Department, Riva said, “I joined at the fire company because I thought it would be interesting and my dad has been a firefighter for about 25 years.”

During the beginning stages of her firefighting career, Riva had to face many challenges, especially with being the youngest, or the “underdog.”

[PHOTO: Brianna Riva, a senior at Purchase Line High School, and her father, Mark Riva, assistant chief of the Commodore Volunteer Fire Department, were part of the first-place team in the pumping contest at the Indiana County Firemen’s Convention. The fire company has won the trophy for the past eight years. (Submitted Photo/Purchase Line School District)]

“I get bossed about now, and before I was a member I was freer,” Riva said. 

Koziel started firefighting three years ago when he was just 15. When asked why he joined the Burnside Fire Department, he said, “it gives me something to do and keeps me out of trouble. There’s always good company at the firehouse.”

Both Koziel and Riva had to take training courses before they could become members. Riva’s training lasted about a year and she still has more classes she wants to take. She would travel to different departments that held the training courses.

Koziel took his classes at the Mahaffey Fire Hall, which lasted for nine weeks.

When asked what their favorite parts are about firefighting, Riva said, “Helping people, especially in wrecks. It feels good to calm the people down, especially when there are little kids involved. I also like going to the Indiana County Firemen’s Convention every year. They have competitions and a lot of water events.” 

Koziel said, “I enjoy the helping of people that need your help the most.”

Volunteer work can come with many challenges as well as enjoyment.

“I don’t like having to get up early in the morning. I’m on 24-hour call and I have to sacrifice doing a lot of other things,” Riva said.

Koziel said something along the same lines: “I don’t like getting woken up at two in the morning for calls, and during baseball season, I don’t get to go to the department until after my games or practices.”

Both Riva and Koziel spend at least a little time at the fire departments nearly every day.

Riva, who has never been in a burning building, will be training to do so once she turns 18. Her experiences at fires, however, are described as “really scary. The guys come out of the buildings drained and the air tank going off. It’s cool because you know they came out and did their job,” she said.

Koziel has also never actually been inside of a burning building, but he said, “We make sure people inside the house don’t get hurt. We’re their relief.”

If other people want to get involved with the Commodore Volunteer Department, meetings are held the first Wednesday and the first Thursday of every month, and anyone who wants to join can come to one of the meetings. Also, there is bingo every Monday night that interested people can help with.

The website, with a listed schedule of all events, can be found at www.commodo Applications can also be found online.

“Anyone that wants to get involved should come help at our events. We have specialty bingos sometimes like Mother’s Day bingo, we hold spaghetti dinners and food drives,” Riva said.

For other people to get involved with the Burnside Fire Department, Koziel said, “They can go to the department and fill out an application. People can also help us by not being judgmental because we’re the smallest department. Just because we’re small, we can still do a lot to help others.”

Volunteering is a great way to help our communities, and whenever a person gives up their own time to help others, it can make a huge impact. Whether it’s being a firefighter or raking leaves for your neighbor, get involved.


By February, many students may agree that having a break from everyday lectures is nice.

Spanish teacher Clarine Beatty allows for her Spanish I, II, III and IV classes to take a day to do so, by making Spanish valentines.

“It’s something fun and creative to do with vocabulary,” Beatty said.

[PHOTO: Purchase Line High School sophomores Larissa Rearick and Kelly Pierce displayed the Valentine’s Day card they made in Spanish class to celebrate El Día de San Valentín. (Janessa McCullough/Purchase Line School District)]

On Valentine’s Day, the classes made old-fashioned valentines using construction paper and doilies. All of the words had to be in Spanish and, if necessary, the students could provide an English translation. Having to use vocabulary and grammar concepts made a fun day still a learning experience.

Beatty said, “The students had to match what they wanted on the cards and personalize the OK for the recipient. They had to choose masculine or feminine agreements.”

The main difference between Spanish culture valentines and American culture valentines is that, “In Spanish countries, they tend to exchange valentines with their significant other and it’s more romantic. In America, we celebrate Valentine’s Day with all ages,” Beatty said.

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