Support pours in for injured Lock No. Four junior firefighter

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The Lock No. Four junior firefighter who was critically injured after being struck by a car earlier this week has received hundreds of cards, well-wishes and uniform patches from fire departments across the country.

Brandon Schwalb remains in critical condition at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh nearly a week after the accident, but Lock No. Four fire Chief Bill Castner Jr. said he is improving slightly and it “looks like he’s through the worst.”

Brandon was struck by a car Monday afternoon while trying to cross Route 88 in North Charleroi to assist on an emergency call for another department. The 14-year-old junior firefighter still faces a long recovery after breaking numerous bones, although Castner said the support pouring in from hundreds of fire departments, some as far away as California, has helped Brandon’s family and his fellow firefighters.

“The fire companies have been amazing from the prayers to (uniform) patches to get-well cards,” Castner said. “It’s been pretty amazing the support we’ve received.”

A battalion chief with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire visited Brandon’s family at the hospital Tuesday night to offer support. The fire department posted on its Facebook page a photo of the meeting at the hospital with Brandon’s father, Fred, who is Lock No. Four’s first assistant chief and also a North Charleroi councilman.

“Little things like that,” Castner said. “I can’t get over the support.”

Castner also saw that support firsthand while in New York earlier this week when the accident happened. Castner was away on business and dropped by the Corning Fire Department to get a photo with two other firefighters offering well-wishes to Brandon and his family back home. The three are seen standing in front of a fire truck holding signs that read “GET WELL BRANDON!”

“I felt helpless being away,” he said.

Lock No. Four firefighters are now collecting donations for Brandon and his family. Donations to help the family offset medical bills can be made by check payable to Lock No. Four Volunteer Fire Company Benefit Fund and sent to Charleroi Federal Savings Bank, P.O. Box 209, Charleroi, PA 15022.

Fire departments can also mail uniform patches and challenge coins to the Lock No. Four Volunteer Fire Company at 540 Isabella Ave., North Charleroi, PA 15022.

“We just want to thank everyone for the support,” Castner said. “The outpouring from other fire companies has been amazing.”

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