Century of service

June 20th, 2015 12:05 pm

First Posted: 2/22/2012

One of the recurring themes throughout the history of the Clarks Summit Fire Company No. 1, Inc. is a desire to serve and protect members of the community. On Nov. 8, the fire company will officially celebrate its 100th birthday.

"All of those men have wanted to help their community and 100 years later, I think there are still people who want to do things in their community," said Linda Dailey, Centennial committee co-chair, who is notably the second woman to join the Clarks Summit Fire Company.

She followed in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, who were both members. Dailey joined the fire company in Jan. 1983 and has served as Lieutenant and Captain of the First Aid and Rescue Squad before becoming Assistant Chief of the EMS Squad. The first woman to join the company was Tammy Yarns, who paved the way for the approximately 12 women who are currently members.

The all-volunteer fire company was organized in 1912 and received its charter Nov. 8 of that year; one year after the Borough of Clarks Summit was incorporated. Joseph W. Hall, the grandfather of the company, recognized a need for a fire company in Clarks Summit and in 1912, a meeting was held at the Roll's Hotel at the corner of State and Grove Streets. Prior to forging the way for the Clarks Summit fire company, Hall was assistant fire chief of the Crystal Hose Company.

Four years ago, members of the fire company placed a marker on his grave as a way to memorialize Hall, who held the position of chief from the first meeting in 1912 until his death in 1947 at the age of 90. On Sept. 18, 1951, The Joseph W. Hall Memorial Auxiliary to the Clarks Summit Fire Company was formed and throughout the years, the auxiliary has worked hand-in-hand with the fire company to serve the needs of the community, and to assist the fire company "wherever" and "whenever" necessary.

Warren Watkins has been a member of the fire company since 1962 and further described the role of the auxiliary throughout the years.

"When I got a call at 2 a.m., my wife would hear it (the phone) and she'd take the phone and call Jake's wife, get him out of bed and tell him where it (the emergency) is. It (communication) was all done within the company itself."

Today, calls are routed through the Comm Center using 911 and fire company volunteers are equipped with pagers and beepers.

"When the fire siren would ring – it was a long and a short (sound) for an ambulance…and four shorts for a fire, but you didn't know where to go so it was all done through the telephone – Commonwealth Telephone. You'd call in and give a code name to the operator and she'd tell you where the fire was…or where the ambulance should go. Talk about antiquated…We've come a long way," added Watkins.

He started as lieutenant but has gone through the ranks of captain, and first and second assistant chief. In 1964, Watkins became chairman of the fire prevention committee and along with junior firemen, brought a fire prevention program to the Abington Heights School District.

Also in keeping with Hall's vision, the fire company has continued to modernize and upgrade the company's equipment in order to remain current with changes in architecture and technology.

When the fire company bought its first ambulance in 1952, it became the first volunteer fire company to have its own ambulance; in 1974, it was the first to buy a ladder truck; in the mid-1980s, and it was the first to purchase the jaws of life and the first thermal imaging camera, according to Jake Hoinowski, who is serving his second year as Fire Chief.

Prior to joining the fire company in April 1987 at age 16, Chief Hoinowski was known as "the kid on the ten-speed bike who rode his bike wherever fire trucks went." He said, "My mother would drive me all the way to Dalton and Newton to watch these guys put out fires." He has been a firefighter, captain, lieutenant, assistant chief and now chief.

In 2004, the fire company moved into its current location at 321 Bedford Street and is one of four firehouses to accommodate the fire company in the past 100 years. The former stations were located on State Street, but the apparatus and firefighting equipment outgrew the buildings.

The Clarks Summit Fire Company currently serves Clarks Summit Borough, Clarks Green Borough, Glenburn Township, Abington Township, and parts of South Abington Township.

There are 150 members with 50 active, including EMTs, drivers and other volunteers who respond to emergencies and serve in a variety of capacities.

The Centennial Committee is chaired by Ryan Miller, Linda Dailey and Warren Watkins. Committee members are: George Yarns, Jake Hoinowski, Al Jennings, Jim McGowan, Dale Richmond Jr., Phil Wells, Michael Lukus, Larry Waters Jr., and Jeff Kester. The Auxiliary liaison is Karen Bevard, Auxiliary president.

Events are planned throughout the year to commemorate the fire company's birthday .

A Centennial Banquet will be held Feb. 25 at the Ramada Inn, Clarks Summit beginning with cocktails at 5:30 p.m. and dinner to follow at 6:30 p.m.

For more information about upcoming events, visit Clarkssummitfire.com.