Montgomery County, PA Station 37
Chief's Report ... 1999
TOTAL CALLS FOR SERVICE – 173
Total calls for 1999 were up by 6 compared to 1998, or 4 percent. Fires in residential dwellings were up 58%. A more serious tragedy was averted on Sunday, August 1, when children, playing with matches, started a fire which caused heavy damage to their home, making it uninhabitable. The children, one of which was handicapped, managed to alert the adult in an upper story room, who was sleeping at the time. The adult attempted to extinguish the rapidly growing fire before calling 911. Everyone escaped with minor injuries, except for the two pets, who perished in the blaze.
Automatic alarm responses dropped 33%. Automobile accidents dropped 35%. There were 50% fewer helicopter standbys. The number of rescues and automatic aid response to calls to the area served by Sassamansville Fire Company were similar between 1998 and 1999.
There were five times as many brush fires due to the drought conditions, including a call on March 31, 1999, which burned over 50 acres, with manpower called from 8 stations and the local forestry unit. Brush fire activity peaked during the last week of July and the first week of August. The company assisted on calls in Limerick, Douglas Township, Upper Frederick and Upper Providence. Of note was the quick response by our units on a call to assist Limerick on July 30 when a rapidly spreading fire threatened to destroy a one story residence. The homeowner was throwing belongings into the trunk of his car, assuming all was going to be lost. Our units arrived in time and, enduring extreme heat from the flames and the high air temperature and humidity, knocked down the fire around the home, which suffered minor damage.
The same story repeated itself on August 6 while covering a call for Douglas Township. Our prompt response minimized fire from spreading into a two story residence. Damage was limited to cracked window glass and melted aluminum siding.
The temporary end to the drought arrived with the remnants of Hurricane Floyd on September 16, 1999. Our company responded to 11 calls on Thursday, two on Friday, and one on Saturday to assist with flooded basements and the prevention of electrical fires from the rising waters.
The breakdown of calls is as follows:
Following is the distribution of calls by day of the week:
The majority of our calls occur between 7AM and 6PM. There were 134 calls, or 77% of our total. The call volume was heaviest between 11 AM and Noon, with 25 calls. The activity remains high through 5 PM.
2 CIVILIAN (1 - 1st degree burn, 1 - smoke inhalation)
2 FIREFIGHTER (1 - 1st degree burn, 1 - hand laceration)
This compares to 4 firefighter and 3 civilian injuries in 1998.
There was property loss of $128,100 involving a total value of $679,700. Damage amounts are up from $73,750 involving a total value of $377,500 in 1998.
4,600 feet of handlines1,650 feet of 5" supply line2,600 feet of 3" supply line36 Self contained breathing apparatus
Total response for the 173 calls were 1675 personnel. The company was in service for 158 hours and 22 minutes, with a total of 1,589 manhours. The company averages 10 persons per call. Daytime responses are a growing problem for many area fire companies as many members work out of their response area.
Our company has had a good response during daytime calls, thanks to the allowance of township employees to respond. This was evident during a structure fire on Evans Road on June 9. Fire company members, who were township employees and regular township employees assisted in a quick knockdown of a fire in the attic. Good firefighting techniques and salvage operations limited smoke and water damage to the residence’s belongings. The resident and his insurance company were very pleased.
The company logged 1,765 hours of training in 1999, an increase of 29 per cent over what was reported in 1998. Several specialized rescue courses were provided, including vehicle rescue and high angle rope rescue. The company also assisted Gilbertsville Ambulance during their vehicle rescue class at their building on April 25, providing manpower and equipment to help them refine their skills. We received an unsolicited letter from the outside instructor commending us for our professionalism and progressive attitude.
PERSONNEL RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION
The company is always looking for good people to join. Several persons joined the organization during 1999. The company has 30 active personnel. Additional members are active with the non-firefighting side and help support our vital fundraising activities. We are always thinking of new ways to promote our company to others. Our company suggested and assisted other area fire and ambulance companies with a recruitment program at the Boyertown Area Senior High School on April 13. This resulted in several new members being recruited by other companies. We expect to refine the program to improve interest levels and obtain more people next year.
To reward our people we hold a company picnic at a member’s home during one of the summer months. We hold an appreciation dinner in January for our members and their spouse or friend, hosted and put own by the chief fire officers as a way of thanking them for their dedication and hard work. Awards are provided for long term
members and humorous events of the past year are recalled in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.
Engine 37-23 1996 KME 1500 gpm pumper
Tanker 37-31 1969 International tanker
Pumper 37-4 1981 Saulsbury 450 gpm minipumper
The company sold the 1989 FMC 1250 gpm pumper during 1999. A KME 1500 GPM Quint with 75 foot aerial ladder will replace it during the second quarter of 2000. While the apparatus is expected by April 1, it will take several weeks of training before it will be ready for use. This $410,000 piece of equipment, which the fire company expects to be able to purchase through it’s fundraising efforts and a loan from the Commonwealth, was thoroughly researched after reviewing building trends in the township and the need for an aerial ladder which could be provided in a timely manner during daytime calls, when manpower response from outside companies is limited.
Our program expanded in 1999. We provided programs throughout the year, both in station and on location for day care centers, pre-school groups, boy scouts, girl scouts, elementary school children and the general public. We place an emphasis on hands-on participation in a controlled and safe manner. We are sought after and provide presentations to school groups outside our township in our fire station.
We attended the township’s Fall Frolic and provided a demonstration of vehicle rescue techniques with Sassamansville Fire Company. We provided some entertainment for the children through the use of our ‘portable’ fire pole and fire prevention materials. We assisted with the landing of a medical helicopter.
We spend an entire day at the New Hanover Upper Frederick Elementary School with the Sassamansville and Upper Frederick fire companies. We jointly sponser a pizza party with Sassamansville for all the 6th grade students as a sign of appreciation for the fire safety skills they have learned over the past 7 years.
Our open house during Fire Prevention week continues to grow in popularity. A smoke generator was used again this year and received very favorable comments from children and parents alike on how effective this tool is for reinforcing escape behaviors.
The simulated call with a 911 Operator is a favorite with the children.
A highlight for our firefighters was a presentation for the Life Skills classes from Colebrookdale Elementary School. We assisted 13 special needs children through a scaled down version of our open house. The teaching staff was very impressed with how well we interacted with the children, and a fun time was had by all.
And although not obvious as a fire prevention activity, we traveled through many neighborhoods with our own Santa Claus on the last Sunday before Christmas. We doubled the amount of candy
canes handed out from last year and still ran out. It was fun waving to Santa’s friends, both young and old.
The new year, 2000, brings a new Fire Chief to the company. The previous Fire Chief for the past nine years, William C. Moyer, has laid a firm foundation to help the fire company operate in the 21st century. We expect to be able to meet the demands of our ever growing population as long as we can continue to raise sufficient funds to maintain our operations, and retain and grow our staff of dedicated volunteers.
What if you called for help and no one came………
Website last updated 14 March 2004.
Send Comments/Questions to Mike Palski.