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We Salute You - Wellsboro Gazette Supplement 24 April 2002 
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Fire Departments & Other Emergency Service Personnel - 
We Salute You. 
Supplement to Wellsboro Gazette 24 APR 2004
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Table of Contents
Middlebury: small department, big heart 
By Gayle Morrow April 24,2002
It’s not for the money, because there isn’t any. It’s not the great hours, because there aren’t any of those either.

“ Somebody’s got to do it, and that’s about what it amounts to,” says Middlebury Fire Department Chief Gary Cooper, who’s been with the department 16 years.“ When you first join it’s the excitement of going out on calls, but you realize after a while there’s a bigger reason. It sounds cliched, but you’re there to help your fellow man in times of need.”

Cooper and about 50 other department members, 20 of whom are active, he says, do indeed help their fellow man. The department responded to 139 calls in 2001. Their “primary” area is Middlebury and the surrounding townships, but “we’ve been as far as Main Street fires in Galeton,” \cooper said. The department has six pieces of apparatus- two engines, two tankers, a “brush truck” for wildfires, and a light rescue unit which is certified as qrs, or quick response service. The QRS is equipped for emergency medical care, explains Cooper. The department’s personnel are EMT’s or first responders, but Middlebury does not have a patient transport unit.

“”We have considered it,” Cooper said, but the general consensus is that there are not enough members, nor would there be enough calls to warrant the purchase of an ambulance.

And for a small department like Middlebury, a lot of what happens or doesn’t happen comes down to money. Funding from the township covers about one-third of the annual operating budget. The rest comes from donations and fundraisers--mainly bingo, chicken barbecues and raffles.

“In Middlebury we’re better fundraisers than anything because that’s what we have to do,” Cooper says. It’s one reason retaining members is difficult. People get tired after the fourth or fifth chicken barbecue; Friday night bingo means somebody who has worked all week has to spend the first night of his or her weekend at the fire hall. Volunteers must also take time from work and families to attend mandatory training sessions.

“People will criticize, but they have to bear in mind we’re all 100 percent volunteers,” says Cooper. “I don’t believe the general public knows how much time is involved.”

The Middlebury Fire Department was organized in 1957 and incorporated in 1958. It will celebrate its 45th anniversary this year. The first year chief was Ray Jelliff, followed by Wayne Heck, Bill Lawton, Rick Butler, Kyle Owlett, and Joe Hastings. Cooper has been the chief since May of last year. Kyle Owlett is first assistant chief; Richard Butler is second assistant chief; Craig Stamile is president; Glenn Trowbridge is vice-president; Megan Trowbridge is secretary; and Rebecca Raymond is treasurer.

“ If somebody wants to volunteer, stop down on a Monday night and get an application,” Cooper invites.

Millerton Fire Department innovators in fire dispatch 
By C.R. Clarke   April 24,2002

The Millerton Fire Department may be small, 43 members and 28 active members serving a small percentage of the citizens of Tioga County, about 4000, but they are ahead of their time in fire dispatch. According to Chief Russell Draper, they were the first in the county to implement universal paging system that was introduced county wide last year.

“If there is a fire, the siren blows five times all together. The bulk of the county will only hear three sirens, but our station will hear five, and the doors of the fire house will open, the heat will go off in winter and the lights will come on,” he said. This gives the volunteer fire fighters an advantage in time and possibly life saving minutes saved.

The computerized dispatch system is hooked into the Tioga County  Communications Center, which is the origin of all fire and medic dispatches, he said.

Draper said he firmly believes in the system and has pushed for its implementation at all departments county wide.

“ There is $500 available for fire departments from their townships to implement this system as part of the local emergency preparedness program. So far, only two departments have done anything with it,” he said.

Of the other $1000 of the total cost to implement the system, $500 comes from the county, leaving each department with only $500 to contribute.

The reason many departments are reluctant to utilize the new system is the controversial issue of sirens, Draper said.

“ A lot of communities just don’t want the sirens because of the noise,” he said.

But sirens have a purpose, he added, stating that each dispatch carries with it a different siren.

“ If we go out on a medical call, it is two short blast; if it is a fire department page, it is one short , 8second blast; a long three minute monotone means you better look out your window , because something big is happening,” he said.

Millerton, like many other fire departments has switched over to high band radio frequencies to communicate with each other, rather than clogging up main channels on lower bands.

“ That gives them a clean channel to dispatch and page on,” he said.

Started in 1952, after Ron Smith’s barn burned down, Millerton is a fairly young department in comparison with some of their peers.  Draper, at a young 40, has been the fire chief for 20 years, starting out as chief at a very young 20 years old. His grandfather, Lester Draper, was a charter member of the fire department, as well as his uncle, Lee W. Gilbert. Other charter members included Fred Myers, Charles E. Driscoll, Manley Garrison, and Erwin Keeney.

In 1953, the fire hall was constructed, but it was little more than a two story garage at the time. Despite its humble beginnings, the department used to hold regular bingo and social nights, draper said. Draper said he remembers when the roof of the fire hall blew off in September 1999.

The Barnes brothers, Jeff and Jim, recalled that the worst call they ever went on was when Jeff’s wife, Katrina, was killed in a tragic head-on crash 1999. Lately, the department is not nearly as busy, with up to two weeks passing a call at times, Jim Barnes said.

“ But we have an average of about two to three calls a week,” Draper added.

Most of Millerton’s members are business owners, Barnes said. Millerton, like Big Elm, it’s  “sister company” rely on Erway  Ambulance, Elmira, N.Y., for serious medical transports, and both call on Pine City, N.Y., for fire department back-up. Jackson Township is the only township served by two fire departments, he added. The two departments serve all of Jackson Township and part of Wells, a total of about 76 square miles.

Today’s chiefs and officers are, Draper; president Jeff Barnes; first assistant chief, John Barnes; second assistant chief, Jim Barnes; third assistant chief, Jeremy Sheive; vice-president, Dennis Reese; trustee Walt Barnes; trustee Brian Keck; first secretary, Carmilla Nhamercedes; treasurer, Pam Draper.

For equipment the fire department has a 1980 Maxim pumper, a 1970 International 2600 gallon tanker, a 1988 Ford Rescue van, a 1988 Ford one ton rescue truck with jaws of life, land rescue equipment and a 1989 Chevy truck.

The fire department used to have an auxiliary, but they haven’t had one for several years, Draper said.

“The auxiliary stopped functioning when the charter members either died or retired,” Draper added.

Like so many other volunteer fire departments, Millerton is hurting for new members.

“ We could use some new faces,” Draper said.

Osceola fire chief has 50 years experience 
By Donna Blend      supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24,2002

Robert Gee of Osceola has served as the fire department’s chief since 1952. The department was incorporated in 1959 and separated from the Elkland Fire Department. The first location for the Osceola department was on South Tuscarora Street. The department is currently housed on North Tuscarora Street. The forty square miles that the department covers includes Osceola Township and about one-third of Farmington Township. There are currently about 18 active members. Several of those joined the department in 1974.

The Osceola Fire Department has an auxiliary that assists the firefighters with fundraisers. The ladies also deliver refreshments to the firefighters at fire scenes. Department members are not only expected to keep up on the required trainings they also participate in watermatics representing the department at annual events. The event apparently is something the firefighters like to do for fun because they took first place in a competition held in Knoxville last summer. For this, the department received a trophy. Other awards include mutual aid certificates, parade participation awards and other watermatics honors.

Gee, who is rather humble, said he didn’t receive any special honors or awards, however members of the department started to remind him of a dinner that he was honored at. The dinner was held at Williamsport and Gee was named the Volunteer of the year. At that time the award was presented to one person annually from all three of the counties of Lycoming, Clinton and Tioga. Now the award is presented to one individual in each county.

Specialized training for the position of chief includes such things as training for vehicle rescue, fire arson detection, and two 16 hour officer-training classes. Also the person interested in becoming chief must have a minimum of six years with a fire department.

December 2007 - Dear Joyce

There are so many mistakes about the Osceola PA, fire department. I want to clarify these mistakes.

1. Bob Gee did not become chief until 1976 at the earliest.
2. Ken Doan was the first Osceola PA, fire chief
3. In between Ken Doan there was Lyle Beard, and Collis Blend.
4. Bob Gee would not have had six years of fire department experience before elected chief.

5. We moved to Osceola in November 1959.  The department was started after that date.

    I should know as I lived in Osceola during this time frame.  I know for sure Ken Doan was Chief when the tannery burned which was 1973.  Also, he was chief when we bought the 1972 pumper.

    Hope this information helps.

Sincerely yours
James Bledsoe

Nelson Fire Department serves a large area
By Donna Blend    supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24, 2002
Nelson Fire Department originated in 1959 when the Elkland Fire Department was attempting to set up satellite stations in both Nelson and Osceola. At that time a number of individuals gathered to give birth to the Nelson Fire Department. The department was housed in the former Nelson School Building. The first call for the firemen of the newly formed department was a barn fire on the Cummings Creek Road on July 16, 1959.

In 1979 the fire department moved to its new location on Village Drive into a building built during the relocation of Nelson. The Nelson Fire Department became an independent in 1963.

The department covers 33 square miles, which includes all of Nelson and Farmington Townships, and ten percent of Lawrence Township. Approximately 17 of the 25 members are active in the firefighting aspect of the department. The fire department at Nelson is the second largest district in the county following only Wellsboro.

In 1981, the department was expanded to include medical and rescue services with the department providing this service to ten percent of Lawrence Township, all of Nelson and Farmington Townships. The department has an auxiliary dating back to 1960. It is still active and members assist the firefighters with the chicken barbecues and other fundraisers.

Nelson Fire Chief Keith McLean spends a lot of time at the fire hall. He is usually at the hall or on call except for a time when he is at work at his full time job. Firemen do not just fight fires. There is equipment  and building maintenance that is necessary and duties range from montly meetings to taking out the garbage. The firemen do all kinds of things to keep the department running, watching the weather, putting chains on trucks in inclement weather, attend training sessions, paperwork, reports, dry hose, recharge cascade systems, every little thing down to cleaning the toilet.

Chief McLean has received a Rookie of the Year award early in his career. He joined the fire department in 1993. There is special training required by the department’s by-laws which require individuals to work their way up through captain, second assistant, dirst assistant, and then chief.

McLean said,” I could see that stuff could be done better and more efficiently. I wanted to help get the company back the way it was in 80’s.” He also indicated that he expected the recovery wouls take some time but said, “ I think we are getting started headed in the right direction.”

The department has received several recognition awards from other departments according to McLean. Some were for parade entries and participation in the Laurel Festival. Nathaniel Colegrove has served the department as president for three months and has been with the department for eight years. Cohen Colegrove, his son, joined the department in 1995 and serves as second assistant chief. The younger Colegrove has been secretary for four years, serves as secretary for the fireman’s relief fund and sits on the board of directors for the organization.

According to Cohen Colegrove the strangest call he could remember was where an elderly female found she had a peanut stuck in her ear. She apparently was eating them and fell asleep. When she awoke she discovered the dilemma. She had to be taken to the hospital to have the nut removed.

Of the most dangerous call chief McLean said, “ \they all have the potential to be the most dangerous call.” Nothing extreme came to mind.”

Colegrove said the families are supportive. The time factor is the problem because there is a lot of work involved.

Of his wife, McLean said, “ She stands by me.” Cohen Colegrove said, “ For the most part the families are supportive. The women have the normal concerns of being careful.

The department has recently replaced an air compressor used to recharge the cascade system. The unit replaces an old compressor that has had some problems. This system is used to fill air bottles that fire fighters wear for safety while inside a burning structure or in a hazard materials situation. The unit can also be used to recharge bottles for divers.

Nelson fire department does not currently have any junior firefighters but would except anyone 15(years) of age who has working papers and parental permission. An interview process will take place and the young person would be expected to attend all meetings and training session. The junior firefighter can be at the scene of the fires but are not allowed to ride on the apparatus. There are also restrictions on the hours and level of involvement for junior firefighters.

By Gayle Morrow   supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24, 2002 

Dean Kreger laughs about the time he and his wife went to pick up a few things from the store on a summer Sunday afternoon. When they got home an hour later, they had a house and yard full of people--mostly members of the Morris Volunteer Fire Department.

Its not an uncommon occurrence. The Volunteers are a close-knit group and they gather together frequently to share a meal, makes plans for the next fundraiser, play volleyball, or, as they have over the past several months, work on the impressive addition to the firehouse.

“ It’s kind of a community center,” says Kreger, who’s been fire and ambulance chief here for about 27 years.” The kids take care of it. We had 20 kids in there playing basketball.

“ Our company’s always been like this. If we want something we come home, do a little figuring, and so it ourselves. We kind of put our heads together.”

Members of the Morris Fire Department and the Ambulance Association are a busy bunch. They went on 314 ambulance runs last year and responded to 160 fire department calls. There is a wall of awards in the fire hall, all testimony to the members’ dedication.

“ There’s close to something every say, but it goes in streaks, “ Kreger says. “ Our (ambulance) response time is one of the best.

There were eight calls or “tones” one day recently, a mixture of everything from mutual aid, fire, trees down, and a medical helicopter transport. In the members’ spare time, they’re planning, arranging, and working at a variety of major fundraisers including the Rattlesnake Hunt, Old Home Days, the gun show ( which, by the way, went from 40 to 80 tables this year), and a craft show.

The ambulance company covers Morris, Duncan, and part of Liberty and Elk townships in Tioga County, plus Pine and portions of Cogan House and Brown townships in Lycoming County. The fire department covers all of that as well, with the exception of Liberty township, and even has a substation in Cogan House. Kreger estimates the coverage area to be about 80 square miles.

How does this group of volunteers do it? “ the members all take pride in what they do,” says Kreger. “ It’s not my company, it’s theirs. People see a need for something and do it. We have a lot of husband and wife teams.”

A critical component of any fire department or ambulance company is having members with the required training.

“I’m proud of them ( the members),” Kreger comments. “ They just seem willing to take the courses.”

Of the approximately 76 members in the ambulance association, for example, 61 are EMTS and nine are First Responders. Most volunteers are members of both organizations. Volunteer Fire and Rescue departments also obviously are dependent on the availability of members to respond to calls. Several of the most frequent responders for Morris are retired, and so are able to take calls which might otherwise have to be covered by another department.

“ The retired people make a big difference in the ambulance service,” notes Kreger. Plus, he says the two groups are “ really not hurting for personnel like a lot of companies are.”

A few local residents formed the fire department in 1946, and from there the town and the township people picked it up, Kreger relates.

The ambulance association will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year.

“We’ve had our good years and our bad years,” says Chief 15. “We’ve got ours (departments ) straightened out. There are no hostilities here.”

People with training also need equipment and Kreger is justifiably proud of what Morris has by way of trucks, ambulances, radios, and what he jokingly calls the “specialty toys.”

That equipment includes two six-wheelers, a four-wheeler, two Hovercrafts and a jet ski.  The jet ski was obtained through a free program, he notes. And as a great deal of their coverage area is state forest land, including sections of the Pine Creek gorge, the other “toys” do come in handy. The Hovercraft was even on CNN (news channel) once as volunteers had taken it, by request, to help out with the flood in Altoona.

The departments also have five fire-fighting units and two ambulances, plus two fire trucks and one rescue unit at the Cogan House substation.  The newest addition to the fleet is a used firetruck purchased for the department by the McCarthy Foundation, a.k.a. Bob and Nina McCarthy.

Surprisingly for a nearly 50-year-old organization and another that is 25, two of the most memorable responses took place just recently-the fire at Ski-Sawmill and the hay wagon hit-and-run that resulted in serious injuries to a 13 year old boy.

“Had that truck been into the wagon a little more……,” Kreger muses. “ Nobody stopped to think of the magnitude of what could have happened.”

The Ski Sawmill fire, “ one of the largest losses we’ve ever had,” could have been much worse. Kreger praised the adult chaperones in charge of the youth group staying at the facility that evening for making sure all the kids were accounted for and safe.

Morris Fire and Ambulance had its annual banquet April 13 in Morris.

Fire department officers are Jim Kreger, president; Ransford Broughton, vice-president; Joanne Laubach, treasurer; Melanie Brown, secretary. Dean Kreger is chief; Doug Cohick is first assistant chief, Amos Osborn is second assistant chief;  Tim   Kreger is third assistant chief.  Ambulance association president is Ransford Broughton; vice-president, is Amos Osborn; secretary/treasurer is Kathy Kreger; Dean Kreger is chief; Steve Kreger is assistant chief.

Goodyear Hose celebrates 96 years of service 
By David Pope       supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24, 2002

With a roster of over 60 members including a chief, two assistant chiefs and eight captains, Goodyear Hose is an exceptionally strong fire company for a small town. The company serves Galeton and the surrounding communities of Pike and Gaines Townships, as well as 50 percent of both West Branch and Ulysses Townships and 33 percent of Hector Township. It also provides rescue service for Abbott and Elk Townships.

According to Goodyear Hose captain and historian Vince Miller, the company began in 1906 as the second of two units in the Galeton Fire Department, seven years after the incorporation of Gale Hose. In 1955 Gale Hose began doing ambulance runs, and within two years it ceased offering fire protection in order to concentrate solely on its ambulance service.

While Goodyear Hose Fire Company and Gale Hose Ambulance are separate entities, they frequently work together and each in fact shares many of the other’s members. It’s not uncommon to find volunteer firefighters who have been active in the departments most of their lives.

Many, like Goodyear Hose Chief, Jim Green and President Joe Cimino, started when they were still in high school.
“ A lot of my friends were joining the fire department,” stated Cimino, “ so I thought I would like to join, too.”

Being able to help people, he said, was a big motivation as well.

For Green-- much like other members-- the location of his family’s home added to his interest in becoming a firefighter. “ it helps living across the street from the firehouse,” he stated. “ I would hang around as a young boy and learn all I could about it.”

Green noted that his entire family was involved with the fire department and that his grandfather, Ray Greene, was chief for nearly 30 years. Both Green and Cimino commented that they look up to their fellow firefighters, whether locally or across the nation, as heroes for their willingness to risk their lives on behalf of others.

“We will never forget the heroes of Sept. 11, 2001, who truly made the ultimate sacrifice in their rescue efforts,” stated Cimino.

The dedication exhibited by firefighters often comes with the support of their loved ones, even though such support is a large sacrifice. “ I think it is hard for ( my family) to share me,” commented Green, “ but they are also proud, knowing that I am helping others with greater needs at the time.”

Cimino agrees. Given a firefighter’s need to be available at all times, he feels having an understanding and supporting family is a great assets.

Another important source of support over the years has been the department’s auxilliary, although Cimino noted that the group is currently inactive. “ We have a few volunteers who offer help and refreshments when we are on an alarm, for which we are very grateful.”

He suggested that anyone wanting to volunteer, reorganize the auxiliary, or form a support group can contact him for more information.

Although no one would become a firefighter to receive accolades, most do appreciate being honored for their efforts.

Goodyear Hose has been recognized over the years for a number of accomplishments, including being one of the first departments to use a five-inch supply hose, which serves as an above-ground water main. Also, Goodyear Hose 10-2 is believed to be the first 2000-gallon-per-minute pumper ordered from any manufacturer for delivery in Pennsylvania. Both were implemented in the mid-1970s to help fight the large fires that Galeton and the surrounding communities were experiencing.

Each member of the department is required to take 88 hours of essentials training, after which he or she may opt for advanced courses in such aspects as vehicle rescue, farm rescue, and emergency medical technician (EMT) training. Both Green and Cimino have undergone advanced training, as have many of their colleagues in the department.
Whether focused on the essentials or the advanced aspects, the training is invaluable to any member responding to a call. Regardless of a fire’s size or nature, any call could be a fireman’s last.

Green said he came close to experiencing his final run when the Galeton Theater caught fire in September 1976, less than 18 months after he joined the department.

“ Gib Ruef Sr., Andy Lychalk Jr., and I were using deck guns and hand lines at the rear of the building, which was three or four floors high,” explained Green. “We narrowly escaped when the brick wall collapsed.”

Cimino, too has experienced his share of close calls, among them  the fire that destroyed the D & L Tavern in 1985. While he and Bill Green were in the building, conditions forced them to head back outside. “ Just as we exited the building, the fire created a back draft and blew all the windows out of the building and onto the street.”

Upon inspection of their gear afterwards, they found that their helmets, coats and bunker pants had actually started to melt down.

Thankfully, not all calls are quite as frightening. Some in fact offer a bit of comic relief.

“ Many years ago,” explained Chief Green, “ we went on a call for lifting assistance. Things were going well until the individual fell on me and I needed to be rescued.”

Cimino recalled a time that the company was sent out to help River Street residents evacuate during a flood caused by an ice jam. Cimino and a colleague needed a boat to rescue the final resident. As they started to leave the house the ice jam broke, which caused the water level to drop rapidly. “ There we were, two firefighters pulling a boat on dry ground back to the street.”

Germania Volunteer Fire Company hailed as Potter County’s oldest 
By David Pope       supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24, 2002

This 1915 Photo of the Firemen's Convention was found in the "treasures" of Joyce's Grandfather, Lee. D. Tice of Sullivan Township. 
Photo was in Galeton by Shumway, photographer
Germania Fire Company

Probably not every fire company has kept the equipment it started with, especially if the company is more than 100 years old. Germania Volunteer Fire Company, however, still has the original hand pump used when they began July 4, 1859. Hailed as the oldest fire company in Potter County, GVFD currently has about 22 active members, including Chief Dave Rawson and President Fred Gorg. According to Rawson, the company is responsible for all of Abbott and Elk Townships and half of West Branch Township.

While some of the fires the company responds to are for permanent homes and businesses, most, said Rawson, involve camps and surrounding areas. The company is also called often to give mutual aid for Goodyear Hose and Coudersport Volunteer Fire Companies, as well as for other companies. The farthest Germania has gone was the Nelson area to help battle a wildfire about a month ago, said Rawson. Quite often, said Rawson, Germania’s EMT’s will respond with Galeton on an ambulance call.

Unlike many other companies, however, Germania has no associated ambulance company of its own, although the fire company does have a first responders unit with oxygen tanks, a defibrillator, backboard and supply kit. Other equipment the company uses include two engines, a tanker, and a patrol unit. The main engine, a 2000 International, comes with a 1,250 gallon-per-minute pump, a 1,000-gallon booster tank, 20 gallons of A and B foam and a 6,000- watt generator.

Engine 19-2 is a 1976 Ford and features a 1,000-gallon-per-minute pump, a 1,000-gallon tank and a 3,500- watt generator. The stainless steel tank on the company’s tanker has a 3,500 gallon capacity.

Among the items on the patrol unit are a 1,000-gallon-per-minute pump, along with a 250 gallon-per-minute high pressure pump, ground sweeps and a booster line to help the company fight wildfires.

All of the company’s members have received the required 45 hours of basic firefighter training in Smethport. While neither Rawson nor Gorg have undergone specialized training, Rawson said a few of the company’s members have. Chief Rawson joined the company about 38 years ago.

“ I had come back to Germania with my family in 1964 after being raised in Wellsboro,” he explained. “ The company needed help, so I figured I would join.”

Rawson states that in his years with the Germania Volunteer Fire Company, he can’t remember ever being in a precarious situation while on a call.

“ I guess you could say I’ve always been lucky. I’ve never been trapped or anything like that,” he said.

Rawson adds, however, that any structure fire is always dangerous, regardless of the size.

“ We’ve been on calls where there were propane tanks on the site, or maybe gun shells going off in the house,” he said.

Gorg has been a member of the company about 20 years and says his brother-in-law, Frank Bollock, influenced him to join. Aside from Bollock, Gorg said he is the first in his family to serve as a fireman.

Of all the fire calls that he has responded to, Gorg remembers one in particular as the hottest he helped put out.

“ It was an old homestead, Dave Yerger’s old place, that caught fire about 10 ot 12 years ago,” explained Gorg. “ The inside was made of logs, and they contained the heat.”

Back to that old hand pump: The item remained unchanged until about 1924, when a gas engine was added to it. Rawson said the company still uses the pump, but of course not to fight fires. Germania Fire Company has sported its historic pump in parades on numerous occasions, including an Allentown parade in the early1980’s, giving them second place honors in the category of “ most unique company.”

“ We use it in competitions,” said Rawson, particularly noting the company’s annual “ Old Home Day” celebrations, held the say before labor say.

Old Home Day is sponsored by the company’s auxiliary, headed by Rawson’s wife, Connie [Roupp].  The event began in 1976 as one of the company’s main fund-raisers and has grown over the years, particularly in the number of cash prizes. Another fund-raiser that the auxiliary sponsors is their annual Ham and Leek Smorgasbord, this year being its 50th.

In addition to the fund-raisers, the auxiliary also helps the company by providing food and drinks for the firefighters during calls. When asked about any personal heroes they have, Rawson and Gorg cite all firefighters in general. “ They have an important job to do and they (do) it ,” says Rawson. Residents of Germania have good reason to say the same thing about their fire company, no matter how large or small the call.

By Henry August        supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24,2002

The Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Company has been in existence since 1948, relative newcomers as far as fire companies are concerned. The fire company operates a Quick Response Service (QRS) to provide rapid intervention to life threatening emergencies, medical emergencies, and any other call that would require an ambulance.

The service is staffed by eight EMTs  and four First Responders. The QRS unit works closely with the Tri- Town Ambulance and the Sabinsville Ambulance Associations. With a membership  of over 80 members, 15-20 are considered “active” participating in emergencies.

Current chief Dave Jones, is a 38-year firefighting professional.

“We are fortunate to have five and seven members who are allowed to respond to calls during the daytime hours,” Jones said.

After reaching the rank of captain in a New Jersey paid fire department Jones moved to Harrison Valley and was recruited by Tom Hoppe to the local volunteer fire department. He is a third generation fireman, and received training in crash rescue and structural fires early in his career.

In conjunction with second chief Gordon Tombs, Jones started a dive rescue team, which is highly respected  throughout the Northeast. Jones says that the most dangerous fire is any fire you respond to.

“If I had to select one that has potential for disaster it would be a natural gas fire or the lumber mill fires but by far the run of the mill fire has the potential to kill you. The fires where there are fatalities are the ones that stay in your memory forever. I can still remember rescuing a child only to learn that the child had passed away,” he said.

The auxiliary is composed mostly of elderly women and is in need of more involvement from young women of the community. The department finds equipment wherever it can and at bargain prices, but uses that equipment to its fullest potential. They are also innovative in fire fighting techniques and were the first in the Northern Tier to use foam.

Whenever a member learns of better equipment or training , the department discusses it and decides whether it meets the community needs. Although Jones has received numerous awards over the years, he is reticent to discuss them feeling that he is just doing what he can to give back to the community.

The department covers 56 square miles of Harrison Township, another 20 square miles of Hector  and Bingham Townships, for a total of around 76 square miles.

For personal heroes, Jones says that “my father was probably the one that had the most impact.”

The thing that impressed the young Jones was the strength and integrity portrayed by his father. Today his heroes are his fellow firefighters throughout the world.

The department takes pride on its morale and professionalism.  Some of the equipment that the department has came from donations or as a result of haggling by Jones and his fellow firefighters.

“We need to replace two engines that are approximately 40 years old and would like to replace them with custom units. The custom fire truck lasts 25 to 30 years with a resale value of $50K .Afire truck on a commercial chassis which may last 15 to 20 years and have no resale value,” he said.

Jones said there is always a need for people to help with emergencies, and other duties in the fire department.
“There is a need for more (article ended here).

Tioga Fire Company’s call are not always routine 
By Chris McGann         supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24,2002

At first glance, Tioga Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Company looks just like a small, rural company.

“ We are about the average fire and ambulance company in the county,” said department seven fire chief Jim Kendrick, while standing in the fire hall with the company’s three engines, two ambulances, and one rescue truck.

But, over the years, they have responded to some interesting calls. In a typical year, the volunteers will respond to about 80 fire and rescue calls and about 225 ambulance calls. On occasion, the company is called out because someone has driven a vehicle into Tioga Lake or the spill way, but that hasn’t happened in several years.

Another time, a tractor trailer hauling gasoline hit several cows on Route 15. Jan. 1, 1990, was a long night. In 1973, a natural gas well exploded and Red Adair was called in. It took about a month and the construction of a pond around the well, but the Tioga firefighters and Red Adair managed to put out the fire and cap the well.

Tioga was also the site of the county’s first fire training school. That was located at the former Tioga Central Building. However that building burned. The first fire company in Tioga, known as the Smead Company, was formed in 1893. The community recognized the need for a fire company after seven buildings burned in the same fire. Smead eventually became known as the Park Fire Company before taking the name of the community in the 1940’s, the company members built a ladder truck by themselves.

Today, the company serves Tioga Borough, Tioga Township and part of Farmington. The ambulance also serves part of Jackson and Middlebury townships. The fire company has about 30 member; the ambulance company has about 15; and the auxiliary includes about half a dozen members. Sometimes the department is short on man power during the day when many people are at work.

‘But that’s what mutual assistance is all about,” said long time member Leigh Sweeley.

“We are always looking for volunteers,” Kendrick said. “We want to get them trained and get them on the front lines.”

Fortunately there is good camaraderie among the volunteers.

“You can’t have on your mind “ I don’t trust that guy,” Sweeley said.

Volunteering also means doing more than putting out fires and responding to ambulance calls. There is a lot of training time and every Monday, the volunteers can be found at the fire hall cleaning and checking out the vehicles.

“ We can’t take the stuff out if we don’t know whether it is going to work right,” Sweeley said.

There is also the cost of replacing fire trucks, maintaining the fire hall and equipping the firefighters. It cost Tioga about $1,600 to equip one person.

In addition to some tax revenue from borough and townships, the volunteers also raise money through bingo, chicken barbecue sales and Old Home Day activities. Sweeley estimated that half of their time is spent making money.

“ If it wasn’t for these guys going out and making money, this department wouldn’t exist, like a lot of other departments,” Sweeley said.

The department also appreciates the support from the community and is prepared to respond to any emergency. “We try to serve our community to the best of our ability,” Sweeley said. In fact, he never goes to sleep without knowing where his equipment is at.

VALLEY COMMUNITY AMBULANCE to celebrate ten years 
By Donna Blend        supplement Wellsboro Gazette - April 24,2002

Celebrating ten years this fall, the Valley Community Ambulance Association membership stands at about 50 with 95 percent of them actively serving. The association covers the townships of Osceola, Deerfield ,Nelson, and three-fourths of Farmington as well as provides ambulance coverage to Knoxville and Elkland boroughs. The organization has an auxiliary that assists with chicken barbecues and other fund raising events.

Like many other departments in the valley, the Valley Community Ambulance Association has received awards for their participation in many parades. The group also has a women’s watermatics team that has been awarded trophies for placing in competitions.

Mark Goodrich of Elkland is the chief of the department and has received personal awards such as first responder and EMT of the year.

“The one I’m the most proud of is the one I share with other members of the department for the baby delivery,” Goodrich said.

The new baby’s family presented the award to the members od the department who assisted at the delivery. Goodrich got involved with the department because of his military connections.

The president of the department, Bob Simmons, also from Elkland has been with the department for its entire life and has received many personal awards. He received an award for being the most improved rookie one year and also received EMT of the year. Simmons said,” I just wanted to get in to help people.”

No one seemed to have personal heroes however Bob Simmons commended the Morris department by saying ,” As far as I’m concerned they are number one in the county. I would like our department to be like that.”

Jeremy Freeman of Austinburg has been with the department for five years and serves as the assistant chief. He and his wife, Melissa, have worked through having a family and volunteering for the association.Melisssa serves the group as treasurer and assist Jeremy with their four children.

Melissa said,” We found a happy medium.” Melissa is currently not going on runs, as the youngest Freeman child is only four months old.

When talking about the ambulance association and the family’s involvement Melissa said, “It is like a family.”

The department currently has eight to ten people who are taking the necessary classes to become ambulance attendants. Some of the people will ride as observers with the department in the near future for the on the job training attributes. Many hours go into becoming an EMT with almost 200 hours involved in becoming a first responder with EMT training. Every time the unit rolls out of the department there must be an EMT and a second medically certified attendant on board. Even the driver of the unit must have completed an emergency vehicle operation course of 16 hours, have CPR certification and be over the age of 18.

The most dangerous call was two different calls, both involving a gunshots fired. Things are handled a little differently these days. If possible and information is available, the scene is secured by police officers prior to the medical personnel being allowed on the scene.

Humor obviously helps this group deal with the stress of a long day. Memories of back to back runs that led to problems with rubber gloves and zippers left them all laughing and a situation with “do I eat” or “ do I not eat” led to a perfectly good hamburger being thrown out after one last bite was snatched.

The department responds to some 600 calls a year with 45 of those being ( article ended here)

By Henry August     supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24,2002

The Genesee Volunteer Fire Department has 100 plus volunteer fire fighters of which only about 20 are active firefighters. The fire company was started in 1940 and incorporated in 1946. The current chief of the department is Alan Kibbe. Kibbe has been a member for 23 years and been the chief on three different occasions.

His most dangerous fire was the gas fire at Andrews Settlement and he believes that the number one priority at any fire is the safety of his fire fighters. Kibbe said that it was his first fire as a chief and he “got the big one” for his first fire. He originally became a member because a friend was a member and says that it is his way of doing something for the community.

Kibbe said his hero growing up was father and the members of the Genesee V.F.D. were a close second. He has, at his own expense and on his own time, completed numerous courses to heighten his skills as a firefighter and as a chief. He has been fireman of the year on three separate occasions and considers it the most important honor because his colleagues considered him the best of the company. He seeks neither awards nor recognition from outside entities.

Aaron Kuhn is the current president of the Fire Company and has been the chief on two occasions as well as twice previously being president of the company. He has been a member since Sept. 1959.

“I became a fireman because of my best friend being a member and asking me to be a member,” he said.

“ We cover over 100 square miles and with mutual aid actually cover over double the area,” he said.

Kuhn said the worst fire they’ve ever had was mutual aid with Allegheny County in Whitesville when they spent 24 hours fighting a sawmill fire.

“ Every fire is dangerous and you learn to have a healthy respect for them all,” Kuhn said.

He’s been a fireman of the year twice including last year.

“ The award is the most precious to me because it is based on merit and requires outstanding service to the department,” he said.

Kuhn says that he had no heros growing up because he had plenty to do with tending the family garden.

“ I regret that there are so many of the volunteers who work so far away that it sometimes makes fire fighting difficult during the day. I wish that more members of the community would become involved in the department,” he said.

“It takes a special dedication and commitment. I wish that more young people would become fireman so that the company may continue to grow and be a benefit to the communities that we serve,” he said.

He noted that Genesee currently has no auxillary.

Wellsboro Ambulance Association ‘ always looking for members’ 
By Gayle Morrow           supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24, 2002
Being a member of the Wellsboro Ambulance Association can take up a lot of your time.

“ We have a lot of calls, “association Chief John Erich said. “ Our ambulance association handles one-third of all fire, rescue and medical calls in the country.”

In and around the borough alone are three nursing homes, two personal care homes and the hospital. Unless a patient is being transported directly from the incident scene, the bulk of transports to the medical helicopter landing site at Nessmuk Lake are handled by the Wellsboro association. There are occasional days with no calls, but most average three.

The association had its beginnings about 60 years ago, and though it has always been directly tied to the fire department, it is, a separate organization. It was the first company in the county, and the only one for a while. Early transporting vehicles were hearses, and an undertaker was one of the attendants. The first actual ambulance was a Cadillac. It is an understatement to say that things have changed. While the early volunteers did an outstanding job with what was available for them to work with , today’s association members are highly trained and have access to an array of life-saving, life-supporting equipment.

“One ambulance alone is probably $120,000,” said Erich. “ By the time you equip it, it is $140,000.”

Ambulances are typically equipped with respiratory support, Trauma-related supplies such as splinting material, bandages and dressings, personal protection equipment, diagnostic equipment and radio equipment. The legal requirements for being an ambulance attendant include about 40 hours of training, Erich continued. Each call must have an EMT and a First Responder. There are about 40 association members with some sort of medical certification, he noted.

“ We probably have people in our department with more training in diverse fields, so no matter what happens we would have a group of people trained to handle it,” he said. “ We are fortunate that through the Firemen’s Relief Fund we can budget money for adequate training.”

Unlike the fire departments, which receive tax-generated funding from the municipalities they serve, the ambulance association is funded through insurance payments and subscriptions---- a kind od fee for service. Many nursing home residents subscribe, Erich noted.

A “normal” ambulance run can be $ 250-$500, and that doesn’t include transfers.

As with many other ambulance associations and their corresponding fire departments, the problem of late is getting and keeping members. There is no monetary compensation, and there is a big commitment of time. The turnover rate is about five years, Erich said. For those who do join and stay, the reasons vary.

“Some people get an adrenaline rush; some get warm fuzzies,” he chuckled. “ You go through different stages. The younger, new members get the rush as well as feeling like they are helping. As you get older you get more of a feeling of compassion. Once you start realizing the importance of your service, it gets under your skin. And then you feel like if you don’t do it, who will?

“ But there is nobody in the organization who is not expendable.”

The turnover rate is typical, he added. Some people just get “burned out.” Their lives and personal commitments change. To be a long-term member requires good spousal support--or the alternative. The association averages 1,100-1,300 calls per year. It has four ambulances, one paramedic vehicle (which is owned by Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital), two snowmobiles, a boat, and two six-wheelers plus trailers which are owned by the fire department. “ The two organizations are closely intertwined,’ Erich said.

In light of the problems the association sometimes has with securing responders, has the idea of a paid service ever been considered?

“ We probably have the most up-to-date equipment compared to most others (departments). If we went to a paid service we wouldn’t be able to have the volunteers we have now. You have to consider the efficiency of a volunteer service. You can’t afford to have people just sitting around.”

So Erich’s “wish list” for the association is more people available to take calls during the day, more people with time to dedicate.

The days of “ having an undertaker and someone to apply a bandage” are long over, he said.

Wellsboro Volunteer Fire Department From two-wheeled carts to “ Firetown U.S.A.” 
By Gayle Morrow April 24, 2002

In the late 1800s,firefighting in Wellsboro was still, well, a bit primitive. Prior to 1886 there was no public water system (no hydrants) in the borough. Fire protection for homes in the early days? A leather water bucket and the kindness of your neighbors. After a series of bad fires on Main Street in the mid 1870s, residents began individual efforts to establish some sort of fire fighting department. They were somewhat successful and incorporated in 1880. They had horses, two-wheeled carts with reels, and a couple of hundred feet of hose, said John Dugan, a member of the Wellsboro Volunteer Fire Department for 58 (!) years.

After the water system was installed ( a “ fantastic engineering feat,” in Dugan words), the hydrants followed. Because of the elevation ( it is a gravity-fed system), there was “decent hydrant pressure ,” and firefighting efforts were subsequently much improved. But the department had little in the way of apparatus until 1930.

At that time, Dugan continued, a tax was levied and a 1930 LaFrance 500-gallon per/minute pumper, with 1,000 feet of 2½ “
Hose, was purchased for $ 4,800.

The truck had its limitations, Dugan said, but, especially for those outside of town who had no fire protection of any source, it was a huge improvement.

In 1940, with World War II “looming” and the government war effort taking all the trucks, it was clear additional  apparatus was needed, so the department purchased a 1941 Mack demonstration model. The firehouse then was where Garrison’s Men’s Shop is now.

When the war ended and all the men came home, there was an “ influx of good help” and the fire department’s manpower problem of the war years was “ solved in a hurry,” Dugan said.

From that point, the department continued to grow, to purchase the most state-of-the-art equipment it could afford, to train its members ( “ there’s more to firefighting than putting water on it,” Dugan commented), and to be innovative with the use of equipment.\\The Tioga County Firemen’s Association was formed in 1950.

“ That was a fantastic step, very progressive,” Dugan said.

As early as 1952 the Wellsboro Fire Department put in a “ basic but successful” two-way radio system. In 1955 the Firemen’s Association “ convinced the county we needed a county-wide fire radio system.

“We figured out a system that is still phenomenal , “ Dugan recalled. Radios went in the homes of the fire chiefs, in the hospital, in the fire houses and in the ambulances. For all Wellsboro calls and mutual aid calls, sirens were activated from the homes.

“ We did that day and night and weekends for over 25 years, “ he said.
Another milestone came in 1976. The big thing then was 5” hose, Dugan said. He thought it would revolutionize firefighting, everybody else in the country was using 2½ “ hose. The big test came in 1976 when the new 5” hoses, never before hooked together, were put into use to fight the huge downtown fire.

Again in 1980 when the Lamplighter  burned, the 5 “ hoses were coupled and adapted and water was pumped a mile away from Nessmuk Lake through them to fight that fatal blaze.

The department’s use of the large hoses, the changing of hydrant couplings to match the hoses’,  countywide standardization of threads, and other fire fighting innovations ultimately led to the designation of Wellsboro as “ Firetown U.S.A., and a number of write ups in trade journals.

“ To see it all come together and work like that was such a gratifying experience, especially for me,” Dugan commented.

Today, under the leadership of Chief Lonnie Campbell, the department continues its tradition of community service by dedicated volunteers. There are about 65 active members, but, according to Campbell, one of the department’s greatest challenges is finding and retaining those members. People have a lot of obligations, he said, and it is particularly difficult during the day to find members who can leave their jobs to respond to a call.

“When I first joined  ( in 1988) I remember seeing members running up the street (to respond)”, Campbell recalled. Today, with many businesses not locally owned, that doesn’t often happen. The community is fortunate, he continued, that there is, relatively speaking, a lot of the workforce here. Many smaller communities, where residents work elsewhere, are “ just drained of manpower during the day.”

It is time-consuming- and not just the time spent actually putting out a fire. Campbell estimates he puts in 15-20 hours per week on administrative duties alone, and says there is always somebody there at the firehouse doing something.

“ As far as employers go, I can understand,” he said. “ We fortunately have a bunch of guys who work nights.”

Financially the department is doing all right but “ could be better,” the chief said. Funding goes back into equipment much of which is specialized.

“ The trucks are pretty well-loaded,” Campbell said, acknowledging that the department is sometimes critized for the amount of apparatus it has. It is for situations like the February fire on Pearl Street and the simultaneous report of a fire at Broad Acres, he said.

Currently the department has four pumpers, a heavy and light rescue truck, two aerial trucks, a hose tender, two ATVs (they’ve paid for themselves over and over, he noted), two snowmobiles, and a boat.

What people may not realize is that the community’s fire defense rating is directly related tied to insurance costs, particularly for businesses and industry.

“ What  we’ve got is what we need,” Campbell said, adding that the department’s and the municipality’s rating of “ class 4” is good, but a class 3,” toward which they’re working would be better.

To that end, a new truck was commissioned almost two years ago. It will replace a 1965 vintage truck, and is the first custom piece of apparatus since 1954.

“ We tried to consider what the worst possible disaster could be, and so designed it to be as versatile as possible,” he said.

Equipment is obviously a necessity, but the heart and soul of the department is its members.

“ You can see it in individuals--everyone is here for the community factor. Some people you can see are drawn to some particular aspect of the work. Once you get in it gives you a sense of pride in the community.

“ You go through a whole bunch of stages,” Campbell continued. “ There is a whole evolution of feelings once you stay with it. You reflect on the number of calls, and think about what could have been lost that was saved. It turns around to a lot of pride.”

That pride was evident shortly after the events of September 11 when the country was in the throes of the anthrax scare. The department received a call from the Communications Center that a suspicious package had been received and the Hazardous Materials Team responded.

“ The World Trade Center os one thing, but this is a small town U.S.A., Campbell said. “ you’ve trained for it, but you really hope and figure it’s a hoax.

He said when the team assembled, the first question he asked each member was: Are you comfortable doing this?

“ Every one of them those guys, without hesitation, said yes,” Campbell said.

The team, himself and “ people with families,” responded to five more similar incidents before things started calming down, he continued. Each time, there was “ absolutely no hesitation” from any of them.“ That made me feel good,, Campbell said.

Fortunately those kinds of incidents are not commonplace. The department does routinely provide fire protection for the borough and for Delmar, Charleston, and Shippen townships. And mutual aid wherever it is needed.

Members will provide inspection of businesses and industry, witness fire drills, and will handle public service needs like trees down in middle of road, in the middle of the night.

“ And yes we have taken cats out of trees,” he laughed.

The most important thing, perhaps, for a volunteer department is being as versatile as possible.

“ You have to do your best at knowing what you can know about every possible situation,” Campbell mused.” It’s very hard to watch someone’s house burn.

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Services: Ready for any Situation 
Supplement to Wellsboro Gazette April 24,2002

When an emergency strikes you or your loved ones, Laurel Health System’s Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital’s (SSMH) Emergency Services is ready to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Providing care are six Emergency Services physicians: Donald D. Shaw, DO, Emergency Services Medical Director; Dwight A. Herr, MD; William A. Howe, MD; Laura J. Rice, MD; Andrew J. Sayre, MD; and Edgar Wong, MD with assistance from nurses, emergency medical technicians, and office staff.

“ All of our staff are dedicated to providing the best care possible,” says Dr. Shaw. “ Our goal is to help people who are in trouble. To prepare for these situations, the hospital holds disaster drills at least twice a year. Staff throughout the hospital practice how they will respond and provide the services needed for a large number of patients.”

Responding to the scene of an emergency are paramedics from Advanced Life Support, a service of Laurel Health System’s Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital.

“ Paramedics respond to any situation 911 dispatchers believe is potentially life threatening,” says Kelle Johnson, Manager of the Hospital’s Advanced Life Support.

“Volunteer ambulances are staffed with Emergency  Medical Technicians and First Responders. They provided basic life support, such as splinting, giving oxygen, helping a patient take their medications , and using the automated external defibrillator when a patient has a cardiac arrest.

Paramedics, on the other hand, are able to start IVs, give medications for breathing heart, and diabetes; insert a tube to the lungs, and monitor a person’s heart prior to cardiac arrest.”

The department id staffed with paramedics, as well as paramedic assistants. Paramedic assistants are trained Emergency Medical Technicians who volunteer to drive the emergency vehicle and assist at the scene of an emergency.

Once a paramedic has responded to the scene of an illness or injury, they begin communicating with physicians and staff at the Hospital’s Emergency Services.

 “ We think our facilities are excellent,” Kelle says. “ A big part of what we do is notifying the Emergency Services staff of what we’re doing and What they’ll need. It takes real team work to have blood drawn, IVs started, and the major questions asked before the patient arrives at the hospital.”

Whether in the Emergency Room at the Hospital or in the field, when an emergency arises, SSMH’s employees respond without hesitation.

“ Last summer when the meteor flew over, our people just came to the hospital without being called,” adds Dr. Shaw. “ They had heard reports of a plane going down and reported to their appropriate department to help. We had a full ER that night, but instead of patients, it was staff. They respond exactly the same way when there is a real disaster, and I think that demonstrates their dedication and commitment.”

For more information on the Hospital’s Emergency Services, call  ( 570) 723-SSMH ( 7764).

Tri-Town Fire Company in operation for 40 plus years 
By Henry August         supplement to Wellsboro Gazette  April 24, 2002

The Tri-Town Fire Company of Ulysses has been in existence for forty some years. The chief is Harold Barber and the President is Cliff Wood. Barber has received the fireman of the year award three times and has been the chief on two other occasions. He reports that there are over 100 square miles in the coverage area plus mutual aid response areas. Barber feels that the fires at Ulysses Lumber are the most dangerous that he has been on.

He sees few young people becoming involved in the department as a dangerous trend that could leave the community without coverage. His greatest hero growing up was his father. Barber credits friends as the reason that he first joined the department but says that community service played a large role too. He says that although the auxiliary is dwindling in numbers, they are an important asset to the department.

Cliff Wood is the president of the Fire Company and actively involved in Emergency Services in Potter County. Wood credits his desire to give something back to the community as his reason to join both the Fire Company and Ambulance Company along with being a Red Cross responder and active community member. He says that the persona portrayed by John Wayne, that of being honest and helpful, was the hero he had growing up.

Wood believes that the Ulysses Lumber fires were the most perilous to himself and his fellow firefighters. He says that there are about 15 people who regularly respond to fires. He wishes that there were more active members available during the working day. Wood has been chief or president of the Tri-Town Fire Company at least three times each and has been fireman of the year twice.

He feels that the greatest recognition that a firefighter can receive is from his peers. Cliff says that the numerous hours given the community by the active members is beyond measure in value. He personally seeks no recognition because he feels it is his duty to serve his community.

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