THE HISTORY OF THE JESSUP HOSE COMPANY NO. 2
~~ Jessup Hose Company Number Two, the oldest continually active fire company in the Borough of Jessup, was incorporated in June of 1921.
The first meetings were held in Skovira's Sweet Shop located at Second Avenue and Hand St. in the "downtown" section of the borough. Officers in the first year of operation included President John Skovira and Vice-Pres¬ident John Gavenda. Serving as Recording and Financial Secretaries were John Luchansky and Joseph Hiznay, respectively while Joseph Pitoniak was elected Treasurer. Jerry Geeza was elected as the first Fire Chief, assisted by Andrew Marcinek and Charles Soblesky.
To meet the firefighting needs of the borough the fire company pur¬chased a new fire engine manufactured by the White Fire Engine Company. The bright red apparatus had four solid tires and was started with the means of a hand crank. Among the fire fighting tools carried were kerosene lanterns, leather hose and a 25-gallon tank that carried a soda-acid water mixture for extinguishing fires. In order to warn other vehi¬cles and pedestrians of its approach, the members utilized a hand cranked fire siren.
In 1929 the membership, after having moved its headquarters to the former York's Restaurant at Church Street and Second Avenue, realized that the White Pumper that had served the borough so well was not up to the increasing tasks realized in an expanding borough containing over 8,000 resi¬dents. It was decided a new pumper would be purchased. Fund raising had begun in 1925 and in 1929 a new, 750-gallon per minute, Buffalo Fire Engine was purchased for $9,000. This engine, which was painted a deep blue color, assisted the company in capturing a number of trophies in various parades in which it, along with the Boy's Band sponsored by the company, participated.
Again, the growth of the borough along with the aging of the Buffalo, as it was affectionately called, led the membership to the decision to purchase a new fire apparatus. The Buffalo, which held much sentimental value as well as still being serviceable as a firefighting vehicle, could not just be scraped. The vehicle was sold to the Thornhurst Fire Company where it has remained since 1948. The vehicle was in operating condition until a few years ago and was occasionally used by the Thornhurst fire fighters at working fires. An interesting fact is that the Old Buffalo was one of the few firefighting vehicles that were able to operate for over 15 hours in sub-freezing weather at the 1968 High Point Inn Fire in Mt. Pocono. Its rotary pump never froze, as did the pumps on the newer ap-paratus at the scene.
A custom Ward LaFrance Fire Engine was purchased for $16,000 and placed into service in 1948. This vehicle served the borough well for over 26 years, until being replaced by a 1974 Ward LaFrance that was taken out of service as Engine 25 in May 2003. The vehicle was sold to one of the company’s first members. During the service of the 1948 Ward LaFrance Engine the fire company moved its operating headquarters once again, to the newly purchased Borough Hall at the corner of Second Avenue and Sturgis Street.
Engine 25, the 1974 Ward 1000 GPM with a 750-gallon water tank, custom-built pumper was placed into service in May of 1974. This pumper was purchased at a cost of over $45,000 and carried the latest in fire suppression technology. It included an enclosed five-man cab and compartments for a number of tools and appliances.
During this time, the fire company realized that the space of its quarters on Second Avenue was insufficient for operating purposes. Training room was nonexistent, storage space was limited and parking problems for members were constantly being experienced. Also, the location did not lend itself to fund raising activities. In 1983 the fire company began to forge a new era in its history when it hired an architect and solicited bids to construct a new fire station on Hill Street. The 4,800 square foot, 6 bay-structure on 3.5 acres of land officially opened on December 10, 1983.
In July of 1984 an opportunity arose for the fire company to increase the size of its firefighting force. A 1965 Ford pick-up truck with an attached utility box was offered to the fire company for $500.00. After inspection by a committee from the department, it was decided to purchase the vehicle for brush firefighting purposes. The membership, including the junior depart¬ment sponsored by the company, began the refurbishing of the highway yel¬low truck. After countless hours by a few of the members and an investment of over $750.00 the company had a new vehicle for emergency response. Ini¬tially utilized for off road incidents, the vehicle began to evolve into a hybrid with the addition of rescue and other pieces of equipment. At its retirement in March of 1989, it had responded to more incidents in the previous four years than either Engines 25-1 (1967 International LaFrance) or 25-2 (1974 Ward LaFrance), its sister apparatus.
In January of 1987 the company learned that Scott Hose Company Number 1 had a 1967 International LaFrance Fire Engine for sale. Again a committee of the company inspected the vehicle and determined that it could serve the growing company as a back up to Engine 25-2 and as the ini¬tial response unit at off-road incidents. The company had seen the apparatus in action at a number of training sessions held by the company at which Scott Fire Company assisted and decided in February of 1987 to make it part of the growing fleet as Engine 25-1.
It became apparent to the membership in late 1988 that Squad 25-3, the 1965 Ford Pick-up, was quickly losing its ability to function as a firefighting vehicle. It began to experience mechanical difficulties. This, coupled with the fact that the company had filled every available storage space led the com¬pany to search for a new vehicle to carry the load. The vehicle was sold to an area contractor who used the vehicle for a number of years.
In early 1989 a vehicle committee was formed and specifications were prepared for a utility type vehicle that could be used for rescue calls. The company decided on a 1989 Chevrolet 3500 pick-up with Reading Utility Box. The vehicle was equipped with all of the appliances from the 1965 Ford, along with newly purchased high angle rescue gear and additional vehicle extrication equipment and was designated Squad 25. This vehicle served the company well, responding to everything from vehicle accidents to brush fires, however the changing face of rescue and the additional needs of the company required the purchase of a larger vehicle with more diverse equipment.
It was decided a rescue engine was needed and a new vehicle committee was formed. Over a period of 18 months the committee met with various vehicle manufactures and attended a number of fire equipment trade shows, Finally, in the Summer of 1993, after a series of meetings of the company and the creation of a short list of vehicle manufacturers, the company signed a contract to purchase a Sutphen Rescue Engine with 1500 gallon per minute pump, 750 gallon water tank and 6,500 watt generator.
The $240,000+ vehicle was placed into service on November 19, 1994 at 6:00 p.m. and made its first response at 6:20 p.m. for carbon-monoxide detector activation on Hill Street, just one block from the fire station. This vehicle was certified by the Commonwealth in 1995 as a Quick Response Unit (at the time the only fire department related unit in the County) and could be used as a back up to the company's ambulance service when needed.
With the sale of Rescue 25 (the 1989 Chevrolet), the company's off road response capabilities were greatly diminished. Over the years, the company had sent numerous requests to the Pennsylvania Department of Forestry to obtain a surplus forestry vehicle. It should be noted that at the time the company incident response was on average 45% brush fires. The Department finally provided the company with a 1952 Dodge 3/4-ton truck that the membership equipped with a 125-gallon water tank and 125-GPM pump. Thus Brush 25 was born.
With the purchase of the Sutphen Rescue Engine and additional equipment, and with an eye to the eventual need to replace Engine 25, the company needed additional revenue streams.
For the previous five years the company had run a successful carnival as a fund raiser; however, the expense of renting tents, along with the nearly three weeks of work setting up, running and then tearing down the operation was taking a toll. The company decided a permanent picnic building was needed. The company built a two-story, 2,400-square foot building that was used for the 1996 carnival. It was equipped with commercial ovens and stoves along with numerous deep fryers and other kitchen equipment as well as an office to administer the carnival. This, and the 1997 carnival were, up until that time, the biggest revenue generators in the company's history, and the carnival building was paid off in a little over one year.
In the summer of 1996 Brush 25 began to experience significant mechanical and electrical system problems. After using everything from baling twine to chewing gum to keep the vehicle operating, and having it towed from three fire scenes, the expense became too great and the company returned the vehicle to the Department of Forestry.
The company was fortunate to have a 1986 Chevrolet delivered to it to replace the 1952 by the Department a few weeks later. Within a month the company converted the pick-up with army canvas top into a brush vehicle with 210 gallons of water, 125-GPM pump, 3500-watt generator and over 500 feet of various size hose lines. The vehicle made its debut at the 1996 Northeastern Fireman's Federation Convention and won a prize in the brush unit category.
Over the previous few years the company had been called to a number of flooding incidents from various hurricane and tropical storms and quick snow melts. The company had obtained a number of sump pumps along with larger gas pumps over the years. These items were either donated by the Borough or obtained with flood reimbursement monies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, due to limited room on the company’s apparatus, these items were stored on a shelf in the station and loaded when needed. This procedure resulted in not only a slow response, but required members to load the equipment quickly. The company had obtained two tag-along army trailers when the forestry brush units were delivered. The company decided to store the equipment on one of the trailers for immediate deployment when needed. Thus Pump-Trailer 25 was born. It carries a 3,000-watt electrical generator and portable lighting along with two gas operated pumps and three electric sump pumps. Also carried are a number of lengths and sizes of hose, shovels and other hand tools.
Also at this time the company expanded its facilities by adding a 1,200-square foot addition onto the rear of the main station. This addition is used as a storeroom and an additional truck bay for working on vehicles without disrupting the main apparatus floor and as the fleet grew became the home for Brush 25..
In May of 1997, the Bureau of Forestry informed the company it had a 1986 Chevrolet Blazer available if it was wanted to obtain it. The company quickly decided the unit would be useful for a number of tasks, and once again the designers and builders and mechanics of the company began a vehicle conversion program. Squad 25 was placed into service in February 1998 as a command post/personnel carrier/fire police/off-road response hybrid. In just over four years of service, the vehicle responded to 174 alarms. Unfortunately, major mechanical problems struck in January of 2002 and the company decided to take the vehicle out of service and return it to the Bureau of Forestry.
During the spring of 2002 the 1974 Ward LaFrance began to experience a number of mechanical and structural problems. Approximately ten years earlier the company had undertaken a major refurbishing of the vehicle, but at 28 years of age the vehicle was now unusable for fire suppression. Again, a committee was formed and over the course of the next few months numerous meetings were held to discuss what type of vehicle and what manufacturer the company wished to pursue. In the fall of 2003 a contract was signed with the Ferrara Corporation to have a custom 1,250-gpm pumper on a Freightliner Chassis constructed for the Company at a price in excess of $210,000. The new Engine 25 was a five-man cab vehicle that featured a PTO electrical generator, a 500-gallon water tank and a hydraulic ladder rack for the 35’ ladder carried on the vehicle along with 24’ and 10’ extension ladders and a 14’ straight roof ladder The apparatus also carried 1,200’ of 5” supply line, portable master stream and numerous attack lines. It was placed into service during the Company’s Annual Carnival in May 2004. The Ward was sold to a member of the company.
As the years have gone by the company has had a number of responses for injured people in the woods and along the river and streams within the Borough. In the past the company would utilize any available resources, such as pick-up trucks or all terrain vehicles. However, this approach did not allow for transport of the needed resources to the seen or allow for a safe method of patient extraction from the remote areas. In 2007 the company, along with the Ambulance Corps, acquired an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) manufactured by Pug for use off-road. A trailer to transport it was also acquired. The pug had a patient carrying compartment and carried basic life support equipment while the trailer carried backboards, rope and other extrication /stabilization equipment.
In 2010 the members of the company realized that all though the Pug was serving its purpose in removing patients from woodland incidents, it did not provide for patient protection being an open body. It was cold in the winter and hot in the summer. In 2011 the ambulance division of the company purchased a Polaris Ranger specifically designed for patient transport with heat and air-conditioning as well as storage for various medical items. The unit was designed ATV 25 in the county computer aided dispatch system. The EMS module was removed from the Pug and it reverted back to a utility vehicle that was used around the company grounds and also in off-road incidents.
Over the years, the number of rescue responses was overtaking fire suppression responses. The company was responding to rope-rescues, structural collapse incidents as well as water and vehicle rescue calls. The company had a number of rescue related items that could not be carried on Rescue 25 due to a lack of space. Structural collapse equipment was stored on the bay floor and would have to be loaded onto another vehicle when needed. That necessitated removing gear form the transport vehicle. This time-consuming and labor-intensive exercise was delaying responses. In 2011 the company formed a committee to investigate and design a vehicle that could be used to carry all of the rescue equipment owned by the company with room for expansion.
The new Rescue 25, a 2013 KME Heavy Rescue, was placed into service in December of 2012. It featured a Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) for fire suppression, a thirty-foot high light tower and numerous mounted and portable lighting, working air hose reels and room for all of the company’s rescue equipment with room for expansion.
In order to pay for the new Rescue 25, the 2004 Freightliner/Ferrara was offered for sale and was purchased by a fire company in Rycroft, Alberta, Canada in February of 2012. During the interim the Lake Ariel Fire Company graciously offered the company the use of a Sutphen engine to replace the Ferrara until delivery of the KME. The former Rescue 25 was re-designated Engine 25 on delivery of the KME and continued in service.
The company has been fortunate in obtaining a number of State and Federal Grants over the years. In 2000 the company received an $8,000 state grant that was used to purchase 15 Minitor III pagers to replace units purchased by the members over the years. The company also purchased gear racks and heavy-duty chainsaw blades with the money received. In 2003 the unit received $5,000 through Senator Mellow’s Office that was combined with other funds for the purchase of one Eagle II Thermal Imaging camera. Through its members, the company has received a number of small ($250 to $500) grants from Warner Communications as part of their employee assistance program. Numerous items of equipment, such as the hydra-ram door opener, were purchased with these funds. In November 2002 the company was notified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that it had been awarded $141,525 in funds that was to be matched by $15,725 in company funds. The grant (which was the ninth highest in the state received through FEMA for non-firefighting vehicles) was used to purchase twenty-five Minitor IV pagers, turnout gear and helmets for 25 firefighters and 32 pairs of leather firefighting boots, a second Eagle II Thermal Imager along with 17 portable radios and 17 Scott 4.5 self-contained breathing apparatus and a Rapid Intervention Team firefighter rescue air supply. In December 2003 the company was notified it had been approved for another FIRE ACT Grant through FEMA for the installation of a vehicle exhaust emission system for the station and new mobile radios. The $45,000 in Federal money was matched with $5,000 in company funds to install the Plymovent Vehicle Exhaust Extraction System in the fall of 2004. The installation of this system falls in line with protecting the health and welfare of the company’s responders started with the purchase of the SCBA’s by eliminating diesel exhaust from the station when starting the apparatus. In March 2004 the company received notification the State had approved another grant request by the company. This grant was utilized to replace the over twenty-year-old gas hot water heating system with a forced hot air system that was more efficient and lowered operating costs, along with providing air conditioning in the crew portion of the station for the first time. In 2005 the company received another FEMA grant to purchase and install a natural gas powered electrical generator that is used to power the station during electrical blackouts in the Borough. The station is the only facility in the Borough with this back-up power capability. In 2007 the company received another FEMA Grant to replace the Air Compressor/Cascade unit purchased used from the Old Forge Fire Department a few years earlier. The new system has the capability to fully fill the SCBA’s acquired by the company with the earlier funding from FEMA.
Another milestone in the company’s history occurred during the summer of 1999. At that time a number of fire departments in the county realized that individually the departments were unprepared to handle long-term or major technical rescues. Most of the companies in the county had some expertise in one or two disciplines and carried limited equipment to accomplish a task for which they had trained. However, technical areas such as structural collapse or confined space rescue were beyond the capability of any one department, both in trained personnel and amount of equipment.
A meeting was held in Moosic, at which the outlines of establishing a technical rescue team were discussed. Included in the discussions were Chinchilla Fire Company (Station 2), Clarks Summit Fire Company (Station 4), Newton-Ransom Fire Company (Station 8), Eagle Hose Company, Dickson City (Station 23), Throop Volunteer Hose Company #3 (Station 27Rescue), Justus Fire Company (Station 28), Scranton Fire Department (Station 50), Old Forge Fire Department (Station 93) and Greenwood Hose Company (Station 98). Due to the training received by company members over the years along with the equipment carried on Rescue 25, the company was asked to join this elite group. In January 2000, Lackawanna County Task Force 1 was established as part of the Lackawanna County Emergency Management Agency assets. The team began to train together and conduct drills and was in its infancy on September 11, 2001.
Technical Rescue Teams in the commonwealth were few and the Pennsylvania Urban Search And Rescue Team had been deployed to New York City. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, through Lackawanna County EMA, requested Lackawanna County Task Force 1 be placed on stand-by for possible deployment. Fortunately, the resources of the county were not needed; however, the need for the team was established. Since 2001 the team has been melded into the framework of the Commonwealth’s technical rescue resource assets. Along with the Pennsylvania USAR Team that may be deployed anywhere in the country, the Commonwealth has established three rescue companies for deployment anywhere within Pennsylvania. Lackawanna County Task Force 1 has been assigned as a part of Company 3 (assigned to the east, Company 1 is in the west and Company 2 is located in the central part of the state). As such, Jessup Hose Company #2 has become part of an organized statewide response to major emergencies, whether manmade or natural.
In 2008 a number of firefighters in the company realized that although the company had sponsored a number of training programs over the years and most members faithfully trained in firefighting and other disciplines, they were not being recognized by their peers for the effort. Likewise, state and Federal funding rules were changing requiring companies to have members trained and certified as Fire Fighter 1’s to take advantage of available funding. The company therefore sponsored a Fire Fighter 1 recruit class and nine members of the company began the training to lead to national certification. The nine took over 164 hours of classroom and practical training in such areas as incident management, Hazardous Materials Operations and hose line advancement and ladder deployment. After 6 grueling months the nine took their certification testing at Bucks County Community College and became Nationally Registered as Fire Fighter 1, meeting all National Fire Protection Association, state and Federal requirements. Through transfers the Company increased the numbers to Twelve FF 1’s. In 2014 the company had eleven Firefighter 1’s, four Firefighter 2’s and three Fire Officer 1’s with a number of Emergency Medical Technicians, Vehicle Rescue Technicians and Hazardous Materials Operations level personnel.
Over the course of its 94 years the company has evolved from a one-engine fire suppression force into a seven-apparatus fire, rescue and emergency medical response unit. As the world of fire suppression and rescue services evolve, so will Station 25.
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