LAKE ARIEL – What comes to mind when you think of accidents, fires and downed power lines? Emergency responders.
Fire companies are one of the first on scene and they work hard to make sure everyone involved is safe.
Wayne County is fortunate to have many fire companies and volunteers who are working to protect everyone in their communities.
Among them is the Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company.
It was started in 1916 and has been around for 98 years.
The company has three stations, on Route 191 in Lake Ariel, by The Hideout and at the South Canaan Township Building.
The main building is on Route 191. It was built in 1949.
There are trucks at each station and firemen go the one that's closest to where they live when calls come in.
The Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company has around 40 members and seven trucks.
They include Engine 1, Engine 2, Engine 3, a rescue, a brush, a supply and a tanker.
The main coverage area for the Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company is Lake Ariel, South Canaan, The Hideout and a small part of Cherry Ridge.
They also assist other areas such as Seelyville, Honesdale, Hamlin, Maplewood, Moscow, Lakeville and Ledgedale.
On average they get 20 calls a month.
The current officers for the Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company include:
President: Mark Cowger
Vice President: Don Pontosky
Secretary: Christina Cowger
Treasurer: Ed Sparkowski
Chief: Michael Dipierro
Deputy Chief: Al Rae
Assistant Chief: Jason Sickler
Rescue Captain: Christopher DiPerro
Fire Captain: Jason DeLorenzo
Lieutenant 1: Shane Howe
Lieutenant 2: Mark Cowger
Engineer: Alan Smith
Fire police Captain: Bruce Swingle
Fire Police Lieutenant: John Randy Fulwood
The Trustees include: Mark Cowger, Don Pontosky, Christina Cowger, Ed Sparkowski, Al Rae, Josh Dennis, Bryan Shumacher, Jason Sickler and Jason DeLorenzo
A misconception regarding fire companies is that they only fight fires and help at accidents.
What many don't realize is fire companies are giving back to their community almost as much as they are out protecting it.
Among their many involvements, the Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company does fire prevention in schools, churches, with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and private companies.
They also do traffic control.
The company does pool fills as well.
Water is taken from one location and put in another. Chief Mike DiPierro said it shows the public what they do when there’s a needed water supply.
He added pool fills are also done as fundraisers.
As a volunteer fire company, funds aren't always easy to come by. They rely on donations from the community.
Fundraisers are held to help raise money for the fire company, but at the same time they benefit the community.
The Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company holds an annual picnic, pancake breakfasts, spaghetti dinners, soup suppers, turkey raffles, a boot drop, an Easter Egg Hunt and more.
There is a lot involved with becoming a firefighter and many hours are dedicated in helping the company remain active.
“We average between one to two members a month,” DiPierro said. “We advertise on our Facebook and put flyers out.”
President Mark Cowger said anyone can become a member of the department, but there are other options than just a firefighter.
Among those options are social members and fire police.
The Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company used to have an auxiliary.
Cowger said they didn't get rid of it, but there weren't many really active members.
“There aren't certain qualifications to join our company, but there are qualifications to run the calls,” DiPierro said.
Hundreds of hours are spent on training each year. DiPierro said they generally do three hours each week. There are also classes that have to be taken.
That is a lot of time spent with the company, not even including putting on fundraisers and going on calls.
Many are working full time jobs on top of being with the company.
“You have to want to do it for the community,” DiPierro said. “You don't do it just because. We try to better the community.”
“If we didn't do our fundraisers we can't fund our trucks to get fuel and maintenance on them,” added Cowger.
DiPierro agreed, saying without the fundraisers they wouldn't operate.
“They're the reason why we can respond to calls,” he said.
Cowger stated the mail-ins get a big response as well.
The company recently received some new air packs and were fortunate enough to get a grant for them.
“They're $50,000,” DiPierro said.
He added that gave them nine packs that are 18 cylinders.
“We're fortunate to get some grants,” DiPierro stated.
He added they will continue to look for grants to help with equipment and vehicles.
“If it wasn't for the grants it would be impossible to get a new engine,” DiPierro explained. “A simple truck without all the bells and whistles is close to $300,000.”
He said getting anything more than the bare minimum can cost “over half a million plus.”
For the amount of time spent with the fire company and doing events for the community, a bond forms and the fire company becomes a second family.
That's what the atmosphere is like with the Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company.
“We do a lot for the community,” DiPierro stated. “There's a sense of pride. It brings a lot of people in who want to be part of something.”
Want to become a member of the Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company? You can stop in at the station on Route 191, call (570) 698-5340 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also contact Chief Mike DiPierro at (570) 906-0684.
Give Lake Ariel Volunteer Fire Company a “like” on Facebook. You can also visit their website, www.lakearielfirecompany.com.