THE HIDEOUT—The Main Lodge Banquet Facility in the Hideout Community was abuzz with activity Saturday evening for the 2019 Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company (LAVFC) installation dinner.

Surrounded by friends, family and community members, the LAVFC and the LAVFC Auxiliary installed new officers, recounted their 2018 successes and rallied together for another year keeping the community safe.

“We did a lot this year,” Chief Michael DiPierro informed the dinner guests. “We got a lot done.

LAVFC received and responded to 219 calls in 2018.

“That's a huge accomplishment,” said DiPierro. “There's not too many companies out there that can say they responded to 100 percent of calls.”

Chief DiPierro noted the company received $79,000 in grant funding to purchase 20 sets of turnout gear including helmets, coats, pants, gloves and more.

The fire company also received $2,500 to purchase new portable radios and pagers.

DiPierro noted new equipment put into use in 2018 includes two gas meters and two thermal imaging counters, one each on Engine-1 one on Engine-2.

Throughout last year, the company completed numerous state, in-house and mutual aid trainings.

“The whole company did great this year,” DiPierro concluded. “You guys were 100 percent this year. We're going to keep it up, keep moving forward.”

Adding to the list of accomplishments, President Al Rae noted in 2018 the LAVFC set about installing 911 signage throughout The Hideout.

“It was a lot more than what I expected,” said Rae “but ... it's something that will go on for 10, 20, 30, 40 years. It will possibly be saving someone's life.”

Rae noted the signage is roughly 85 percent complete in The Hideout and will be a boon to emergency responders and safety officials of all kinds.

Looking ahead, the fire company is setting up for a run of 17 fundraisers to generate capital for the new year.

“Those Fundraisers are what keeps this department going,” said Rae. It keeps those trucks on the road.”

Words from the public

Honored speakers Saturday night included Wayne County President Judge Janine Edwards, Wayne County Commissioners Joseph Adams and Wendell Kay, and special guest Danny Rae.

Stating that being with the LAVFC, “...always feels like I'm coming home,” Judge Edwards noted firefighters take on a great responsibility.

“This office that you hold, the duty of a firefighter, has the same inherent hazards that confront our police and our military every single day,” she said.

“The idea that you may need to give up your life for service, the idea that you may be called upon to suffer, the idea that you may have to go beyond the normal bounds of your duties in keeping that trust, that is oath worthy.”

Commissioner Kay stated, “You folks are really an inspiration to those of us in the Commissioners Office because of the vitality of your organization, the numbers that you produce and the enthusiasm that you follow every day as you go through the course of your work life, home life and your duties here with us.”

Noting the county works to make constant improvement to the 911 and emergency operations of the area, Commissioner Adams added, “One of the most important things we do as county commissioners is to provide as much as we possibly can for public safety which is obviously what you do, and you do it well.

“I want to congratulate all of you for an amazing civic duty that you're doing.”

A firefighter and paramedic with the Prince George County Volunteer Fire Department in Maryland and an Engine Sergeant with the Morningside Volunteer Fire Department who got his start in the fire service at the LAVFC, Danny Rae had some words of wisdom for the incoming 2019 leadership.

His five points of wisdom included accepting responsibility for everyone under one's command, remembering one's roots and continuing to pass on information, give credit where it's due, put the public first, and always prepare for the worst.

Starting in LAVFC, Rae noted he grew fond of the “small details” of being a firefighter in Lake Ariel: “The family atmosphere, the never-ending education opportunities, being able to help the community, [and] everyone's concurrent love of wings and bacon.”

Awards

In recognition of the efforts put in by members of the LAVFC and Auxiliary, ranking officers awarded the following honors to superlative members of the organization.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world,” said Sue Koerber, outgoing Auxiliary President, quoting Margaret Mead. “Indeed, it is the only thing that has.”

The five firefighters who responded to the most alarms in 2018 were, Billy Kay Jr., Barry Neiss, Billy Polley, Alan Smith and Michael Dilatush.

The Fireman of the Year Award was given to Tom Walsh.

DiPierro presented The Chief's Award to Jordon Peck.

Following suit, Rae presented the President's Award to Frank Santulli.

Rae also presented Koerber with an award commemorating the hard work she's done supporting the fire company over the years.

Koerber was later awarded with similar, heartfelt honors from incoming Auxiliary President Linda Januschevich, Vice President Kate Rae and Treasurer Janet Miller.

The LAVFC Auxiliary presented the Distinguished Member Award to Diane Kane and lauded Linda Pontosky for her long service to the Auxiliary both as a member and a former president.

2019 Officers

Sworn in by Judge Edwards, LAVFC's 2019 officers include:

Administrative officers:

• Al Rae, President

• Barry Neiss, Vice President and Recruitment Officer

• Janet Miller, Treasurer

• Diane Kane, Secretary

• Billy Kay Jr., Disciplinary Trustee

• Jason Delorenzo, Frank Santulli, Jordon Peck, Greg Reingold, Christopher DiPierro, Trustees

• Edward J. Sparkowski, Chaplain.

Relief Administrative officers:

• Al Rae, President

• Barry Neiss, Vice President

• Janet Miller, Treasurer

• Courtney Kizer, Secretary

Firematic officers:

• Michael DiPierro, Chief

• Christopher DiPierro, Deputy Chief

• Al Rae, Assistant Chief

• Jason Delorenzo, Fire Rescue Captain

• Greg Reingold, Lieutenant A

• Tom Walsh, Lieutenant B

• Alan Smith, Engineer

• Jordon Peck, Assistant Engineer and Assistant Training Officer

• Bruce Swingle, Fire Police Captain

• Paul Coar, Fire Police Lieutenant A

• Richard Swick, Fire Police Lieutenant B

• Christopher Hall, Training Officer

• Billy Kay Jr., Master Mechanic.

Auxiliary officers:

• Linda Januschevich, President

• Kate Rae, Vice President

• Janet Miller, Treasurer

• Diane Kane, Secretary