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Supplement to Wellsboro Gazette 24 APR 2004
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Table of Contents
.FIRE DEPARTMENTS AND OTHER EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS

COMMUNICATIONS CENTER
 
 

Communications Center is a vital part of emergency services in Tioga, Potter Counties

By Gayle Morrow

Supplement to Wellsboro Gazette 24 APR 2004
Reprinted with permission
 

They receive an estimated 250,000 calls per year. They handle 29 police agencies, 26 fire departments, 15 ambulance services, and advances life support services, and 26 after- hours paging services. They dispatch for all of Tioga and Potter counties, northern Lycoming County, one township in Bradford County, and one township in McKean County.

That’s 2,550 square miles- bigger than the state of Delaware.

They’re also the county’s emergency management department. They provide a variety of training, are responsible for ambulance inspections, are the local emergency planning commission, oversee the West Nile virus program, and are actively involved with the ongoing county-wide readdressing .

If you haven’t guessed, “they” are the Tioga County Emergency Communications Center-a. k. a. 9-1-1.

The “Comm Center” opened in 1979 in the basement of the new courthouse annex. Prior to that time, explained Emergency Services Director Dave Cohick, there as a 10-phone system, with phones at different locations throughout the county. Someone with an emergency would call one of the numbers ( Wellsboro’s was 724-1234 and Mansfield’s was 662-2222. He recalled) and “hopefully someone would answer.”

Some of those emergency phone numbers were transferred to the Communication Center, giving those communities a direct line to the dispatchers. Additional departments eventually joined and became radio-dispatched.

In October 1989, Potter County came on board. With just over 18,000 residents, “ it made sense for them to come to us,” said Cohick. About that time, too, the center switched from a seven-digit number to 911.

Since then, a major focus for the center has been technological/equipment improvements with the goal of enhancing service and tackling longstanding problems like: Where is the caller calling from?

Sometimes even the caller doesn’t know.

That was the case not too long ago, Cohick related, when a couple drove to a camp for the weekend. They arrived late at night, and the following morning the husband had a heart attack. The wife called 911 from her cell phone, but initially had no idea where she was calling from or how to direct emergency responders to the camp.

Then there was the time the center dispatched a fire department to a motor vehicle accident. Using direction the caller gave, rescuers found the accident 15 minutes later, 20 miles north of where the caller said it was.

Through the use of multiple transmission towers, new wireless phone enhancements required of the wireless industry by the government, GIS aerial photography and readdressing, those kinds of situations can be eliminated.

“The whole thing will tie together,” Cohick said.

What was it like at the center on September 11? The emergency operations center was activated , which meant, among other things, that the department was ready to “bring key personnel into the center to make decisions, if necessary,” Cohick said. Since then the already-established seven county North Central Counter Terrorism Task Force has focused on the detection and protection, and in securing equipment and training for First Responders and other emergency personnel.

Other remarkable days include last summer’s meteor--”probably the biggest event I can recall for radio traffic on 911 call,” said Cohick, who’s been with the Emergency Services for 17 years and director for six. Initially the incident was dispatched as an airplane crash. Cohick first contacted Williamsport and Elmira airports, but as “we were receiving calls from all over the county, it was soon obvious it wasn’t a plane.”

Some of the 11 full-time and five part-time dispatchers cited the Lamplighter fire in downtown Wellsboro and the Caldwell accident as incidents they will never forget.

The 1980 fire at the Lamplighter Inn killed three people.

The 1990 accident left six people dead, victims of a drunk driver.

“I’m very, very impressed with all the dispatchers,” said Cohick. “We have a good team and I’m proud to be a part of it, I’m pleased with the direction we’re going. The commissioners are very supportive. They

They’ve taken the county leaps and bounds forward in the past couple of years with GIS and readdressing.

So what can citizens do to help the center help them?

“We’re in a drought watch now, which requires voluntary restrictions ,” Cohick commented . “If we don’t get some substantial rainfall, we’ll be in trouble. So definitely use caution with fire.”

He suggested having an emergency response kit at home. What to include? Think along these lines: If you had to leave your house right now, what would you need for three or four days? Minimally the kit should contain medications, clothing, batteries, and a weather radio.

“I would really like to see people have a severe weather radio,” Cohick continued. Through them , the center can provide locally pertinent emergency information.

“Be vigilant and alert in these days and times,” he advised. “If you see something suspicious, report it.

“And check your smoke detector.”


BIG ELM FIRE DEPARTMENT has plenty of heart 

By C.R. Clarke

Supplement to Wellsboro Gazette 24 APR 2004
Reprinted with permission

The Big Elm Fire Department may be small in comparison to some bigger city fire departments, but what they lack in numbers, they make up in heart.

Chief Byron Wright, a native of Daggett, the small town near the border with New York State in Tioga County that the Big Elm Fire Department serves, says 50 members of the department are “always there” when needed.

First assistant chief is Steve Noble, second assistant chief is Norman Wolfe, and third assistant chief is James Ketter.

President is David Wolfe, vice president is David James, Treasurer is Jerry Maletsko, Trustees are David Wright, Dick Smith, and Henry Garrison.

The Big Elm Fire Department started in 1949, when life member Gordon Martin, now 74, said there were a couple of fires that broke out at the same time and no one to fight them.

“First a barn caught fire and burned the garage next to it, then Richard Smith’s garage burned after that,” he said.

At the time, there was no fire department. They had to come from Troy and Elmira, N.Y.,” Martin said.

After that Smith got a fire department going.

“They took up a collection for $750 and bought a fire truck from Northumberland. It was a 1924 American-LaFrance pumper truck,” he said.

After that, they built the original fire hall, which sits close to the road at the south end of this hamlet along Route 549 in Jackson Township.

“They built that with donations and donated labor,” he said.

According to Martin, there was plenty of community involvement in the fire department’s main fundraiser, Bingo, which was played every Wednesday night for over 20 years.

The old fire hall was replaced with a new one in 1978, Martin said.

Another life member, Henry Garrison, 72, joined the fire department in 1960, and still serves as a trustee.

According to Garrison, fire dispatching was quite a process during their first days.

“Beverly Smith and Avis Martin, (Gordon’s wife) would answer the phone, and each had a button to set the sirens off. Beverly had a radio in her home,” he said.

When the fire department first began, anyone who gave $50 or $100 donation was a member , Garrison said.

There have always anywhere from 12 to 40 members, with only about a dozen in the early days, he added.

Martin, who was chief mechanic, then served two separate terms as chief.

“ The first term, in 1960s was 12 years, and the second, in the late ’70s was four,” he said.

Garrison also served as chief, for 18 years, from 1970 to 1988.

Frank VanDelinder served for 10 years as president of the fire department, and Richard Wright served as chief for four years in the late 1980s.

Fire fighter Jeff Garrison, who joined the fire department in 1977, recalled his first fire.

“Mrs. Martin was the truck driver when I went on my first structure fire call,” he said.

According to her husband, Mrs. Martin, who was a truck driver by trade, drove the fire truck through the 1970s, long before women’s liberation caught up to Tioga County.

Wright told a story about another much loved and missed, female member of the Big Elm Fire Department.

Katrina Cogswell-Barnes, a nurse at Robert Packer Hospital, Sayre, who died in a tragic automobile accident in 1999, was a young volunteer with her dad, longtime fire fighter Bob Cogswell.

“During the 1994 flood, Katrina worked the radio room without any training. She was 18 at the time,” Wright said.

Katrina’s husband, Jeff Barnes, and his brother, Jim both fire fighters for Millerton Fire Department, were the first ones on the scene of the accident, compounding the tragedy.

The two brothers cut Katrina from the car, but she was already gone, Jim Barnes said.

A second nurse, Elaine Perry, who was on her way to work at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Elmira, was also killed in the head on collision.

A new engine, Number 13-2 was dedicated to Katrina in a special ceremony March 17.

Her mother, Mary Cogswell, said that she would be honored that they named the new truck for her.

“ I feel honored that they remembered her in this way,” she said.


Bloss fire department one of the oldest in county. 
By C.R. Clarke       supplement to Wellsboro Gazette. April 24, 2002

Bloss fire chief Kevin Lindquist has a long history with a fire department that is probably one of the oldest in the county. Lindquist, who has two years as chief, most recently since 2000, also served as chief from 1981 to 1991. Blossburg Volunteer Fire Department has been in existence since 1869, according to Lindquist. They have 55 active fire fighters in their force, more than many other Tioga County fire departments.

Also unlike other county volunteer fire departments, Blossburg seems to have no shortage of people willing to volunteer their help.

“ We are on a high right now. Up until a couple of years ago, we needed people but we are ok now.

Blossburg Fire Department officers are president, Dean Hall; vice-president, Lawrence Burns; treasurer, Kim Barnes; secretary, Megan Lawson; trustee Charles Brazda. First assistant chief is Steve Hall; second assistant chief, Terry Kreger; third assistant chief Shawn Carey; and Captain of the Fire Police, Dean Hall, Lieutenant of the Fire Police is Charles Brazda. Covers about 75 square miles, Bloss Borough, Covington, Putnam, Hamilton and part of Ward.

The most dangerous fire Lindquist said he can recall going to was probably back in 1982.

“We had a propane leak at Ward Manufacturing. It was contained to the tank but created a lot of havoc and did actually ignite,” he said.

 Though the tanks functioned as they should have, Lindquist said the blaze caught a nearby oil settlement pond on fire, causing it to take them longer to get it out, Lindquist said.

A total of four fire departments responded to the scene, as often happens in Tioga County when a fire gets too big for just one department to handle. This particular fire took them most of the night to get out, causing fire fighters to spend about 12 hours on the scene. Despite the inherent danger of fire fighting, Lindquist said there have never been any deaths or serious injuries to Blossburg fire fighters.

“ We have been pretty fortunate, we’ve never had anyone get hurt or killed,” he said.

The most they have seen are smoke inhalation cases, usually when someone goes into a burning building without an oxygen mask.

Former chiefs include late Dan Signor, Mansfield district justice for years, who was an amateur historian. Ray Frederick, who will be 82 Friday, April 26, also is a former fire chief. Frederick is still active with the ambulance department.  To supplement the tax payments they receive, the Blossburg Fire Department holds fund raisers each year, as do most Tioga County fire departments.

“ We do French fries at the Coal Festival, and lottery tickets on the Pennsylvania Lotto every other month,” Lindquist said.

According to Lindquist, there is a good reason to raise money right now.

“ We are in the process right now of trying to purchase a piece of ground on the north side of town to build a new fire hall,” Lindquist said.

The new fire hall will house both the fire and ambulance companies, and will be 80 by 180 feet, with 8 bays, he said.

“ The fire and ambulance will be going back together then. Right now they are housed in two separate buildings,” he said.
The fire hall is on side of the Acorn Market, while the ambulance department is on the other side, Lindquist said.

The fire department has two engines, a tanker, a medium duty rescue truck, and a 65 foot aerial. “ We also have three ambulances,” he said.

At one time part of the fire department, the Blossburg Firemen’s Ambulance Association has been around since the 1970s, said current ambulance chief Myra Kreger. Ambulance chief for two year, she has 20 years with the ambulance department. Over 30 people actively work with her, and all must be committed enough to take special training and updates on a regular basis.

“Every year they have to take hazardous material updates, and CPR every two years, and we have specialized training such as EMTs,” she said.

They also have two nonmedical command paramedics, Myra and Husband Terry.

“ There are also first responders and drivers,” she said.

First responders, who are trained to be the first on the scene of an accident or emergency, can be police or fire department or other members of the community. They have been around about eight years.

“ Right now we are doing a class at the station with 12 fire and ambulance personnel taking the class,” she said.

 Other officers in the association are Lawrence “Jake” Barnes, Chief 470,assistant chief;  Captains, David Thompson, Megan Lawson and Judy Jones. President Lawrence Barnes; vice-president, Stephen Hall; treasurer, Terry Kreger and secretary Amanda Blumling. The association handles 500 calls a year, in Liberty Township, Bloss Township, Blossburg Borough, Hamilton Township, Covington Township, Putnam Township, and Ward Township. Almost all calls are difficult and sometimes heartbreaking. She recalled two calls that were particularly heartbreaking.

A young Mansfield University student woman, 20, and a 16 year old girl from Arnot both died from asthma attacks “ We weren’t able to successfully resuscitate them,” she said.

To help ambulance personnel deal with the grief, critical incident stress relief teams do a debriefing.

“ The one time, Dr. Gombosi came and we sat through hours of lectures on asthma,” she said.

The association, like so many other small town volunteer organizations, is always in need of new members, Kreger said. An active auxiliary, which is over 25 years old, does much of the fundraising such as a chicken barbecue just last week, she said. Barbara Jones is president of the auxiliary, Pam Deremer is secretary and Kreger is treasurer.

The auxiliary, a team of about 15 people, both men and women, work to support the fire fighters and ambulance personnel.
They take refreshments to the scene of fires and accidents, prepare meals for interdepartmental  classes, at least five times per year.

Ray Frederick, 82, is the oldest running EMT in the state of Pennsylvania, Kreger said, and still goes on runs with Kreger.
“ He has all the training and is a big help to me. Between him and Dean Hall, they are my day crew and people know them in the community,” she said.

On May 17, the association will do a motor vehicle accident simulation for SADD, ( Students Against Destructive Decisions) at North Penn High School, with a Guthrie One landing, she said.

EMS week is May 19 through May 25, and Kreger said an all day open house is planned at the ambulance garage, on Hannibal Street.


CHATHAM fire department boast three generations 
By Marie Leddy              supplement to Wellsboro Gazette - April 24, 2002

Photo by Joyce M. Tice May 2006

Sometime a friendly invitation is all it takes for a citizen to become a volunteer firefighter. This was the case with Chatham Fire Chief Herold Watkins. In the mid- 1970’s. Watkins was a close friend to a few of the volunteer fire fighters.

According to him, one day they said, ”come on down (to the station).”

He did, and soon Watkins was studying first aid, CPR, and fire fighting 1 and 2.

Volunteer fire fighting was nothing new to “Watkins, since his father was a member of the Chatham Volunteer Fire Department. The family tradition has continued with Herold Watkins’ son Matthew, who was awarded the 2001 Volunteer of the Year Award. All three  generations are currently serving with the department.

When asked what was the most unusual fire he could remember, Chief Watkins told of a time when a call came through for an “unknown fire, unknown location.”

When it was finally traced to a location in Chatham Township. It was discovered to be a small brush fire. As for that Watkins considers the most dangerous fire in the department record, “ I think any fire that you have is extremely dangerous.” He also mentioned that it is dangerous when any untrained person comes out of a burning building, then rushes back in to retrieve items.

The Chatham Volunteer Fire Department has served an area of 36 square miles since May of 1957. It has 31 members on the roll, but an average of 15 members usually come to help stop fires. The Chatham Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary is largely made up of retirees who prepare the annual banquet and similar events.

Chief Watkins personal hero  ( and quite possibly, the hero of the department) is his wife and Department Secretary Vivian Watkins. Chief Watkins admires her for “putting up with me,” and as any well-run organization knows, a good secretary is vital for success. All is not intense work at the station, however.

Chief Watkins is proud of the performance of the Chatham Volunteer Fire Department at the Annual Fireman’s Carnival Games against Knoxville’s Deerfield Volunteer Fire Department. Over the year, Chatham’s team has won several trophies in the Opposing Fire Hoses Water Ball game


.Clymer Fire Department--birthplace of the Remote Area Rescue Vehicle 
By Marie Leddy        supplement to Wellsboro Gazette - April 24, 2002

The residents in the Clymer area, the Clymer Township Volunteer Hose Company is best known for its quick, effective service and determination to get the job done right.

To fire departments across the nation, the Clymer Township Volunteer Hose Company is known for its creation of the Remote Area Rescue Vehicle.

Originally designed in 1989 to reach extremely rural locations in Tioga County, the converted all-terrain vehicles are now also used by other states for crowd control, search and rescue missions, and medical emergencies in some cities.

CTVHC Chief Richard Patterson, who played a major role in the creation and design if the vehicle, said that news of the equipment spread via an article in the “Pennsylvania Fireman.”

“ We has contracts from Texas and different places as to how they could aquire something like this. We didn’t have the money to patent it…… Now, many fire departments have it.”

This major contribution to the world of rescue equipment is quite an accomplishment for a fire department that started with just one “ old Studebaker truck” in November 1961.

The formation of the department was prompted after 13 losses of property in one year due to fire in Clymer.

During CTVHC’s first year, Chief Richard Patterson’s brother, Robert Patterson, joined and soon became an active member.

“ I used to think he was crazy running around to all those fires,” said Chief Patterson, but he just kind of talked me in to joining, and then it wasn’t hard to see the need of helping a small community-- there were only so many of us. And so that’s how we got started, and then the more you get involved in something like that , the love ( for it) definitely comes.”

The Clymer Township Volunteer Hose Company has 25 members, with an average of 12 members consistently coming to help fight fires.

Assistant Chief and President is Tim Eldridge , who helps in covering the eight square miles which includes all of Clymer and 10 percent of Hector Township.

The department also participates in “ Mutual aid “ with surrounding companies.

Patterson says his brother, who died in 1978, is one of his greatest heroes.

“ I was Assistant Chief when he died, so I was shoved into that in a hurry, and then who do you ask (for advice)?”

The answer to that question was another one of Patterson’s heroes, Wellsboro Fire Cief John Dugan.

“ He was a great inspiration to me…..(His) example, encouragement ---many times I’d ask him a question, and there never was a time I’d ask a question that he couldn’t answer for me. That’s very important-- especially to a new person…”
Chief Patterson, who has always enjoyed the support of his family, expressed concern over the lack of new, younger volunteers in the department.

“ Volunteerism is slipping away from us.” Asked if there was a slight increase in in volunteers after September 11, Patterson replied emphatically, “No.”

Speculating on what the membership of Clymer Township Volunteer Hose Company would be like in the not-so-distant future, he said, “ That scary--very scary…. I think that someday everything will be paid, but the dollars will never be there for that. Until that time comes, it will be like a shock--Oh my gosh, where is everybody?….. You get quite a few numbers on your role, but you don’t get a lot of people when its time to do whatever ( needs to be done). I worry about it a lot. We used to go to a fire and there were almost too many ( volunteers) there. Now you go to a fire, and you wonder, where is everybody? We still do just as good a job…. Because you know, you have to.”


Crary Hose Company has long history of community spirit
By Henry August        supplement to Wellsboro Gazette - April 24, 2002

The Crary Hose Company has been in existence in one form or another since the 1860s in Westfield. It goes back to bucket brigades and just average citizens responding to needs.

That same spirit of responding to the needs of the community is carried through to today by the over 100 members of the company.

The chief, Jeff Abbott, has been fireman of the year twice as has Larry Bell the current president of the company. eff considers his parents as his role models and heroes. Though an unassuming man, Jeff is quite proud of his association with Crary Hose Company.

He has often said that the most dangerous fire is the fire that you take for granted. His first priority is for the safety of his fellow firefighters and victims of the fire. “ Human life must always be the first concern of firefighters. Property is also important and must be saved if at all possible. I work with many fine people who fight fires because they care about their community. Ego doesn’t have any place when you fight fires. There is only the task of fighting the fire. All new equipment in the world is useless unless you work as a team.”

Larry Bell is a veteran firefighter with the company and is its newly elected president. Larry had as his role model and hero his father  and credits his family with instilling the desire to serve his community.

Outside of the Fireman of the Year Award, Larry doesn’t look at awards as anything special. He says,” being a firefighter in a volunteer fire company means giving of yourself for the good of the community. It involves going through all the available training to become a better firefighter and servant to your community. I love the fact that I can save lives and property and affect peoples lives by reducing the impact a fire has on them. I try to encourage young people to become involved in the company to keep it viable and to give something back to their community.”

Larry feels that no matter whether you are a social member or a responder to fires, you can help the company and the community.

The events of 9/11 made him realize the importance of unity between various fire companies.


Elkland  fire company remembers its history
By Donna Blend   supplement to Wellsboro Gazette - April 24, 2002
The Elkland Fire Department organized in 1892. Historical records for the department tell the story of who served as chief and how many members strong the department was over the years.

However, several years of records are missing, as are some of the awards the department received in the past.

These awards may still be in the area and resemble old bugles or speaking trumpets. These items are historical and are made of brass and chrome and measure fourteen to sixteen inches in length.

Fire department member Mark Goodrich said, “ Over time they become misplaced and the fire department would like to get them back.”

The department has numerous cabinets full of other awards and trophies according to vice-president Ryane Rumsey.

Jonas VanOrsdale of Elkland serves as chief for the department. VanOrsdale said,” I didn’t have much choice in the matter.” VanOrsdale took the position this year when the prior chief left the area. Prior to the appointment he had served more than 20 years as assistant chief.

Family support is very important for the fireman of the valley. VanOrsdale said, ”My family is pretty proud of me for being a chief.”

When you talk about most dangerous fires Elkland Fire Department had had its share. The first one that comes to mind is the one of June 19, 1973 when what remained of the world’s largest sole leather tannery burned in what seemed like minutes.

Other big fires included a July 4th fire in 1988 that destroyed the Western Auto building and severely damaged others. A fire in a liquor store in 1934 was good for a chuckle among the firemen when they discussed the missing liquor and the fact that it was 41 degrees below zero the night of the fire.

Another fire, at the department, got everyone a little excited. VanOrsdale took a little kidding when the other members told of his putting the trucks in as the other firefighters were taking them out because the boiler room at the fire hall was in flames. VanOrsdale didn’t know about the potential danger and he just kept trying to put the trucks away.

The department currently has three engines, one aerial, a tanker, and a patrol as well as a 1917 hose cart. The department also has an antique fire extinguisher on display. A forty-inch bell that originally cost $ 77.58 and was used to call firemen to a fire located in front of the fire hall.

 The department does not have an auxiliary however they have 45 members with 25 active in the department. One of the oldest members is Ed Milinski who has been with the department for 67 years and has served as treasurer for 47 years. Milinski is 83 and an active member of the department.


GALE HOSE AMBULANCE: A commitment to service 
By Teri McDowell        supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24, 2002

“We need people---EMTs, drivers, first responders.”

That’s the message members of Gale Hose Ambulance want to pass along to residents of their service area.

GHA covers a large territory, and its volunteers have shown a huge commitment to making sure that local residents have the quality emergency care they need before reaching the hospital.

With a vast coverage area, Gale Hose Ambulance is one of the busiest emergency services organizations in Potter  County, and their reach extends into Tioga County as well.

Twenty-six active members, including EMTs and drivers, make up Gale Hose Ambulance, which was second only to Coudersport Volunteer Ambulance Association in call volume last year, in 2000, GHA logged the most calls of any ambulance association in the county.

GHA responds to calls in Galeton, Borough, Pike, West Branch, Abbott, Ulysses, and Hector townships, and the Tioga County areas of Gaines, Watrous, Marshlands, and Rexford.

While the populations of the coverage area are somewhat clustered, the Galeton area is surrounded by thousands of acres of state lands which see heavy use by hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.

This leads to some land rescues in out-of-the way places which can take emergency personnel as long as 45 minutes to reach, with another hour passing before the ambulance arrives at the hospital.

“You have to be on your toes and well-trained in this area,” remarked Gregg Martuccio, assistant ambulance chief. “ Before an ambulance meets up with the paramedic unit, our EMTs may spend a long time on patient care.”

Martuccio, a 911 dispatcher at the Tioga County communication center, has completed the paramedic course and plans to take the required test for certification. He and other members of GHA said one of the volunteer group’s biggest challenges is  recruiting new people.

Daytime coverage has traditionally been a problem, with most young, able-bodied volunteers working. But GHA personnel have worked to lessen the daytime problems.

“We have people who work night shifts that take away from their sleep during the day to volunteer,” Martuccio continued. “Its quite a commitment to service and takes a lot of time away from people’s lives and families. We really appreciate that.”

All GHA’s ambulance drivers are also First Responders, ready to assist when needed at the scene. And GHA has consistently drawn high marks for its professionalism.

“We get a lot of compliments on our personnel, training and patient care,” Martuccio noted.

That’s nor surprising, given the pride in the organization that is readily evident when speaking to the volunteers.

Anyone interested in joining as a EMT, first responder, or driver is invited to contact GHA or any member. Training is provided and GHA will reimburse the individual for the cost if the course is successfully completed.

GHA operates three ambulances: the newest model is a blue and white Horton Type 3 (Ambulance 10-7), purchased in 1999; along with a red Horton Type 3 ( Ambulance 10-6 ) purchased in 1991; and a blue and white Horton Type 1 four-wheel  drive unit purchased in 1994.

Efforts are underway to cover all three vehicles with the distinctive blue and white paint scheme.

GHA is also committed to maintaining the appearance of it hall. Anew training room and office--complete with a recessed awards showcase -- adjoins the ambulance garage.

A Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) grant was received to cover half the cost of the refurbishment, approximately  $17,000, and also included installation of energy efficient windows and improved lighting.

“It’s a multi-purpose building,” Martuccio noted.” One Ward votes there, civic organizations used it. Before it was rather cold and unwelcoming.”

A generator was recently purchased which will enable the ambulance hall to be used as an emergency shelter if necessary. It will also enable the heavy electronic doors to be operated during power outages.

Outside, members are proud of a decorative sign carved on a large rock, with accompanying landscaping, created by GHA member Eric Green, a paramedic who is now serving with the U.S. Navy .

Green continues to be active in the department when he returns to Galeton for visits, Martuccio noted.

Donations and memorials account for a portion of GHA’s operating budget, and contributions from the public are always welcome .Funds are also raised through the annual subscription drive, which runs from Feb. 1 to Jan.31.

Residents, businesses and seasonal camp owners are encouraged to subscribe. A subscription ensures that the patient wil not receive any additional bills for ambulance services., regardless of insurance coverage, deductibles, or co-insurance.

Non-subscribers pay an average of $250- $400 per BLS trip. Third party billing is used to bill insurance companies. These funds equip the three ambulances as well as providing training for EMTs and First Responders.

Subscriptions are effective for one year from the date received. Rates are: businesses, $100; camps, $75; individuals, $20; family, $35; senior citizens couple, $30; senior citizen individual, $15.

Subscription forms can be obtained by contacting Linda Beaker at 435-8432 or Margo Germino at 435-8118.

Gale Hose Ambulance officers are: Ken Wingo, president; Joe Bradley, vice-president; Margo Germino, secretary; sue Gilbert, treasurer; Mike Sauley, chief ; Gregg Martuccio, assistant chief; and trustees, Doug Parsell, Earl Grant, and Larry Bailey.
 

LIBERTY fire department’s junior fire fighter program sets them apart 
by Chris  McGann     supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24, 2002

One thing that sets the Liberty Fire Department apart from others is their junior firefighter program. In fact, a quarter of the firefighters ( 11 out of 43 total ) on the roster are aged 14 to 17.

They have to go through the same training as the adults and they help at the various fund raisers.

“ And they are always there when we have a call,” said assistant chief Mark Russell.

 There are some restrictions, Russell said. For example, junior volunteers firefighters must get working papers as if they have a paying job.

“ The state looks at it as a job.” he said.

The junior firefighters are also restricted in the hours they can work and cannot go inside a burning building. And the juniors are important to the company.

“Volunteerism is becoming a thing of the past because of economics and life styles,” Russell said. “ People want to be at home with their families..”

There is no shortage of things for the volunteers to do. The company’s coverage area includes Liberty Borough, Liberty Township, and Jackson Township in Lycoming County. Often, they are called to assist Blossburg, Morris’ Cogan House substation, Canton and Trout Run.  Liberty averages 110 to 115 calls per year, 80 to 90 percent of which are medical emergencies. Liberty does not have a separate ambulance service. Instead, they rely on a rescue , known as a quick response service, certified by the Health Department.

“We can provide the same service as an ambulance, but we can’t transport,” Russell said.

Instead, they respond until Morris or Blossburg ambulances can get to the scene to transport patients. There are currently 15 people with EMT training and four first responders. Two or three others will be starting first responder training soon. Route 15 from Buttonwood  to the top of Bloss mountain is all Liberty’s territory. It was also considered the deadliest stretch of Route 15.

“ In my first five years here, we had five fatalities,” Russell said.

There was also a double fatality during construction. Since the new highway opened, Russell said Liberty has not had to respond to a fatality on Route 15. The expansion of Route 15 to four lanes has really helped , said Russell. Wider highways are safer because they allow more room for driver error. Another thing that Liberty prides themselves on is a quick response time with full crews.

“ We are usually out the door in four to five minutes,” said Chief Tony Baker.

Russell reads off the response times for recent incidents. Three minutes, Four minutes, One minute, Four minutes.And it is not just the firefighters and EMTs, both men noted. A 15 to 20  member ladies auxiliary helps out with everything from fundraisers to fighting fires. Eighteen fire police direct traffic at incidents and give directions to other companies. The Liberty fire police have one several awards for their work. Baker noted that it is often difficult for people to find their way around the area if they are unfamiliar with it.

“ I am proud of all my guys, especially the juniors,” Baker said.

Liberty Fire Company is primarily funded through fundraisers and a special tax levy approved by a referendum. The company has just replaced their old tanker and is now looking to replace their squad truck, which is a 1971 model, used primarily for brush fires and support at scenes of other fires. The company has come a long way since it was formed in 1908. At that time, the fire fighting strategy was a bucket brigade to throw water on a fire. Wet horse blankets were used to protect neighboring structures.

The first fire truck is still in Liberty at the borough building. It is a 1925 water pumper. The apparatus dubbed the “Village Queen,” was purchased by the borough council new for $1,425. The current fire hall went up in 1973 and the addition was put on in 1997. All of the work was done by the fire company members. In 1974, the rescue part of the company was added.

“The whole town has been good to us,” Baker said.

“ They take care of us and we take care of them,” Russell added.
 

Knoxville -Deerfield Volunteer Fire Department- pioneers in fire fighting
by Marie Leddy supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24,2002
Until 1981, the normal rural firefighting procedure was to bring the needed water with the fire truck to the fire. Needless to say, this nationally-used system was difficult and had its drawbacks, the greatest being that if the truck ran out of water before the fire was out, precious moments would be used to drive to the closest hydrant, fill the tanker and return to the fire.

In 1978, nine Knoxville-Deerfield volunteer fire fighters set out to change the system. The architects of the plan included Mike Farman, Alan Payne, Richard Short, the late Robert Lugg, Perry Tompkins, Lynn Bess, Michael Clark, Lace Steadman, and Dale Swetland. The concept was simple: design a water-free truck with a mile-long, five inch-wide, hose that can draw water from any source.

After a year of planning, they had a final design. The next challenge was to find a company willing to build the truck. After two years of searching, Ward 79 LTD of Elmira agreed to build the never-before tested concept in firefighting.

In a newspaper article from around 1981, Ward President Henry Kaeser was indirectly quoted as saying, “the concept was the forerunner of modern firefighting,” and that “ the engineering of the project was done so well that there were no changes made in the original concept from beginning to end.”

The new equipment was a complete success, and the truck which has been described as a “portable hydrant on wheels,” has been used to help stop fires as far away as Towanda.

Finding solutions to problems is nothing new for the Knoxville-Deerfield Volunteer Fire Department.  The company was formed in 1891 in the aftermath of the worst fire Knoxville had ever known, the complete destruction of I.M. Edgcomb and Sons factory. A picture of the gutted building is on display in the Knoxville Library’s Museum. Pictures, as well as fire equipment and other related items from the department’s past, are on display at the museum.

Originally called the Lafayette Engine and Hose Company, its equipment consisted of a hand pumper, some fire hose, and a group of dedicated volunteers. Shortly after its inception, the fire company made its first innovative change. They requested a municipal water system, since the scattered fire wells in the town were proving to be inadequate. Seven years later, in 1898, the city had a full municipal water system and fire hydrants.

Today’s volunteer firefighters face dangers never dreamed of in 1891. Chief Louis “ Dutch” Bloom recalled the most dangerous fire he had ever faced was in 1982, when a fuel tanker turned over in Deerfield Township in front of Payne’s Dairy.
“ We had to use a lot of foam ( to put it out),” he said.

Fire Company President Chris Davenport recalled his most dangerous fire as the “Whitman’s Fire” on Elkland’s Main Street in 1992. The challenge , he said, was keeping it from spreading to other buildings. The 25-member Knoxville-Deerfield Volunteer Fire Department covers an area of five square miles, and is ready to help neighboring fire departments.

When asked who their heroes were, Chief Bloom said he didn’t really have any. Fire President Chris Davenport looked at his chief, and smiled as he said, “Dutch is my hero.”
 

Lawrenceville fire and ambulance has rich history 
By C.R. Clarke   supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24,2002
The Lawrenceville fire and ambulance department has a long and rich history in Tioga County. Chief Ken Windows, who has been the Lawrenceville chief for six years, said that the fire department has been in existence since 1859. Retired member Al Kreger, 84, said he recalled how informal the operations of the fire department were back in the 1930’s.

“ Around 1939-1940, they organized the first school here and things began to change after that,” he said.

Phillip Holland, who moved to Lawrenceville from Elmira, N.Y., organized the fire department and was elected chief shortly after the Civil War, Kreger said.

At that time, they used a borrowed hand powered pumper from Elmira, N.Y. that they agreed to keep in good repair for fighting fires. Around 1900, a water system was proposed to be built in the borough, but rejected by the borough council. Kreger added.

Today, there are 53 active members in the fire department. Chiefs are Chief Windows; first assistant chief , Lee Strange; Second assistant chief, Nathan Hilfiger; third assistant chief, Chuck Miller; and fire police chief Larry Keeney. Fire department officers are president, Larry Keeney; vice-president, Ray Ransom; secretary Yvonne Keeney; and treasurer Frank Salatino.

Fire department volunteers are required to take 88 hours of training to be a member of the fire department.

“The average fire fighter/EMT donates anywhere from two to 30 hours per week depending on how busy it is,” Windows said.

Former fire chief Chuck Miller, 60, said that the Lawrenceville’s biggest fire was a barn fire Aug. 5, 1986, which took from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.  the next day to put out. A cause for the fire was never determined but could have possibly been wet hay combusting. The very next day there was an accident involving a beer truck, and a pick-up truck and a tractor trailer at the old steel bridge just outside the borough. That bridge was replaced in 1994, Miller said. Three people died in that accident, which was only one of many because of the narrow bridge.

Another wreck between a big rig and car near the bridge in March 1979 injured four people, Miller recalled. Another fire Miller recalled was when the hardware store on Main Street burned down Christmas Day 1989.

Lawrenceville is one of the few fire departments that still have an auxiliary, which began in the 1950’s, Miller Sid. The president is Nancy McConnell, and are currently down to about half dozen members, he added.“ They need more members,” Miller said.

The auxiliary’s function is to provide food and water to fire fighters during fires and prepare fund raisers such as spaghetti dinners, etc. According to Windows, the auxiliary’s lack of members can be attributed to lifestyle changes.

“ Women are taking a more active role by doing ambulance runs and being actual members of the fire department, and who go to the scene of fires,” he said.

Fire fighting seems to hold a family appeal in these parts, as illustrated by Kreger, who said, “ My father has a rule, if there was a fire, one of us would go to the fire,” he said.

Kreger actually started out as a fire fighter in Tioga and then moved to Lawrenceville in 1948.

“ In Tioga, they had a fire siren. The first time it sounded was down on Church Street.
A lady died in that fire, ”Kreger recalled.

Before that, he added Tioga had a fire bell. Most business people in the community were members.

“ It was quite a lot different. In those days Tioga had a water system similar to Lawrenceville’s,” Kreger said.

Windows recalled the most dangerous fire he ever fought was in the late 1980’s, when a gas tanker hit three or four of Gordon Wood’s cows, which had gotten into the road.

“ There was gas squirting out all over the place,” he said.

Miller, recalled a natural gas well fire in 1973 off Mann Hill Road, near Tioga that took a long time to put out, and finally had to be extinguished using dynamite.

‘ It took four weeks to get that fire out,” he said.

Miller said they were on the scene for 12 hours before it actually started, because (they were ) trying to cap off the well. Which was a high pressure gas well and had begun to leaking.

“ We needed water to make cement to cap it off, and we didn’t have any, because all we had was portable pumper,” he said.

By the time they were able to borrow a pump from another department, the well had exploded and seriously burned the operator of the drilling truck. The department hauled water up from the river and a pond to try to keep the fire and surrounding metal cooled until the “ Red Adair” group from Houston, Texas could be called in to blow the fire out with dynamite, Miller said.

Around 1940, Pennsylvania started a state fire schools, and the first time classes held in Lawrenceville, Harry Zeller was the instructor in Sayre. “ Mansfield and Wellsboro had pumpers and Wellsboro had a ladder truck. David Bliss from Lawrenceville attended the training,” Kreger said.

Right after WWII ended, Lawrenceville bought a new surplus fire truck,” he added.

According to Kreger, fire school revolutionized things for fire companies.

“Before that, they weren’t trained and didn’t know proper techniques,” he said.

Though they have never had a fire fighter die fighting a fire, some were injured.

“ Harold Seeley was injured in the late 1950’s,” Kreger recalled, but only minor injures since.

The Lawrenceville Fire Department has a 1984 pumper that carries 1,250 gallons of water; a 75 foot aerial truck; a 1991 American LaFrance 1,500 gpm pumper that carries 300 gallons of water; a 1975 MACK tanker, which holds 4,000 gallons of water; a 1977 Dodge power wagon; a  brush truck, a four wheel drive off road vehicle with a 250 gpm pump. And two ambulances.
 

Mansfield Ambulance Association has 45 year history in community 
By Chris McGann           supplement to Wellsboro Gazette  April 24,2002

Before the advent of ambulance companies, the vehicle used to transport patients had two signs--” Ambulance” and “hearse,” back in the days when funerals homes provided that service. The first ambulances for the Mansfield Ambulance Association were the same model as a hearse.

Established in 1957, the Mansfield Ambulance Association covers Mansfield and Roseville boroughs and the townships of Richmond, Sullivan and Rutland. They share coverage of Putnam and Covington townships with Blossburg. In the first years of the company’s existence, they also covered Tioga, Lawrenceville, Millerton and Southern New York areas.

“ It is amazing how far they went in those says,” said ambulance chief Jim Welch.

These days every ambulance company has ten minutes to respond before the communication center sends out a call to a neighboring company. Often, Mansfield will still get called to go to other communities on mutual aid calls.

“ We will go anywhere in the county just like any unit will come here, “ Welch said.

Three ambulances in the company respond to about 800 calls per year, which includes medical emergencies, traffic accidents and structure fires. One of these vehicles, Ambulance 2-7, a 1993 model, will be replaced soon. The company tries to save enough to replace the oldest ambulance every three years. A new ambulance with no equipment costs $ 177,000.

“ Nine years is plenty,” Welch said. “ We don’t want to go to ten.”

He added that an ambulance starts to show its age after about six years. That is partly due to the fact that ambulances must be run hard over terrain that is often less than perfect. The other big expense for the Mansfield Ambulance Association is mortgage payments on the new building on South Main Street.

The fundraisers we have been doing have been tremendous,” said association president Mark Hamilton.

With those contributions from the community, the companies have been able to pay a large amount of the 20-year mortgage since the building opened in 1995. Before the new fire/ambulance building went up, both companies were dealing with limited space. The garage at the borough building was not large enough for all of the fire trucks and ambulances. At that time, the fire trucks were scattered all over town wherever there was garage space, Welch said.

He also noted that the ambulance association does not receive tax money, but instead relies solely on donations, fundraisers and fees charged for transports. April marks the beginning of their major fundraiser, the annual subscription drive. The major benefit, Welch said, is that subscribers receive transports for free if they need it and have no insurance.

“ One trip can cost $600 to $ 700,” Welch said.

The other major fundraiser is the weekly bingo game. Hamilton said that the association is proud of the fact that they can keep the cost down for the community. A paid company could cost double the current budget, he said.

The whole purpose of being here is to serve the community,” Welch said.

In order to continue that service, the association always needs volunteers. Currently about 45 people volunteer on the ambulance. The biggest problem is finding people to respond during the day, Welch said. Most people work during the day and some work outside of Mansfield, which makes difficult to respond. Hamilton did note that the department is fortunate to have some volunteers who are able to leave work during the day.

“ What keeps me doing it is the love of serving people,” Hamilton said.
 

Mansfield Hose Company Department Two has come a long way in the last decade 
By Chris McGann      supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24,2002
Photo by Joyce M. Tice September 2006

See also 1935 Article

In just a few years, the Mansfield Hose Company, Department Two, has come a long way. They have a new building and a relatively new fire truck. The best thing that has happened to us, besides moving here, was Bob and Nina McCarthy buying that truck for us,” said Fire Chief Rick Roupp.

In 1999, the McCarthy’s helped purchase the ladder truck for Mansfield. It has been dubbed the SOB; “ Sweet Old Bob.” And it fits perfectly in the new building, which first saw use in 1995. The new building on South Main Street sits on the site of the old Agway building.

Prior to that some of the fire trucks were at the old fire station at the borough building. Things got so tight in there, the doors on the fire trucks and ambulances only opened half way. Other trucks were scattered through town where ever there was space. But all that equipment obviously require someone to run it.

Currently, Mansfield Hose Company has about 60 members and an auxiliary. With their work schedules, it is often hard for all of the volunteer firefighters to respond.

“ During the day, it is tough because of manpower,” Roupp said. “ Then, we have to call for mutual assistance.”

So, the company is always looking for new members. On occasion, a university student will join the company.

“ That is always a plus,,” Roupp said.

As for the  potential emergencies Mansfield responds to, there are a few unique challenges.

The university buildings can pose a particular challenge, Roupp said. The tallest residence hall has seven floors, but the fire company does not have a aerial unit. There are also the chemicals stored at the science building. Historically, that has not been a problem.

“ I don’t remember going to the university for a fire in a classroom,” Roupp said. “ They have all been in the dorms.”

When there are fires in the residence halls, the fire fighters typically use special backpacks to suppress the flames.

Another type of fire that is common in many rural areas, is the wildfire. They typically happen when a controlled burn of brush or trash gets out of control.

“ No time is a good time to burn,” Roupp said.

If someone must burn, he added, the best time is on a cold day when there is an inch or two of snow on the ground. The company also responds to vehicle accidents and has done vehicle, water and land rescues.

Their primary coverage area id the same as the ambulance association which includes Mansfield and Roseville boroughs and the townships of Richmond, Sullivan and Rutland. They share coverage of Putnam and Covington Townships with Blossburg.

This is the 81st year for the company, in 1921, Mansfield’s three fire companies emerged. The second engine the company ever had is still at the fire hall.

The 1946 Sanford still runs and pumps water, Roupp said. The last time it saw service was in 1988 when about 500 people watched the firefighters put out a blaze on Main Street that destroyed the Wilkinson-Dunn Company. Another echo of the past is the fire company’s business phone number (570) 662-2222.

In the days before the county dispatch, the Mansfield Hose Company used a ten-phone system and that number was the emergency number fir the Mansfield area. That phone number rang ten phones belonging to different fire company members. When someone picked up, he or she took information about the emergency. Another phone number would then set off the fire tones.

The Mansfield Volunteer Hose Company is partially supported by tax money from the boroughs and townships. Additional revenue comes from fundraisers. A big chunk of the revenue from upkeep comes from the weekly bingo games and renting out the banquet facility.

An early Postcard of Mansfield Hose Company from Joyce's Collection
February 2007
Joyce,

I have enjoyed your web site for the past few years. I have been reading a lot of the information on the Boro of Mansfield and surrounding areas. I am curious if you have by chance come across any pictures of the Mansfield Hook and Ladder. I have seen reference to the company formation, and brief information. In 2006 we purchased a ladder truck in Mansfield, and I believe it is the first one since the mentioned hook and ladder co. 

 I know it’s only recent history but attached it the picture of the “New” ladder. 

Thanks,
Jim M. Welch, Fire Chief, Mansfield Hose Company


 
Bradford County PA
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Published On Tri-Counties Site On 11/29/2004
By Joyce M. Tice
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