June 08--MIDDLEPORT -- Borough firefighters had originally just planned to dedicate the new tanker truck it received last November. But thanks to new friends from a community with the same name in New York, the small fire company had a lot more to celebrate.
Citizens Fire Company No. 1 held a parade and dedication services Saturday for not only a tanker, but a new engine, as well.
"Who would have thought we would be dedicating a new engine, too," Todd Amos, assistant fire chief and president of the company, said Friday.
Middleport Fire Company, New York, recently donated a 1985 Spartan-Young engine to the Schuylkill County company. About 15 members of the fire company drove about five hours from western New York to join them in dedicating its old engine.
"It still works great," Ross Hageman, president of the New York company, said. "We didn't want to scrap it. This whole thing could not have ended any better."
After seeing a brand new truck bearing the Middleport name in a 2014 calendar, Amos first reached out the New York company to congratulate the firefighters on acquiring the 2013 Spartan ERV Custom Cab and invite them down for the tanker housing.
"One thing led to another and we started to talk about our engine," Amos said.
Citizens Fire Company has been having electrical issues with the 1984 Mack engine it acquired in 2007. The New York company offered to donate the truck they were using as a third back-up apparatus.
Amos and a few others went to New York to pick up the truck on March 22.
"I'm thrilled our truck is here," Hageman said. "Everyone is so nice and they are such a great group of people. I'm glad our truck is being used as a first-run apparatus again."
While the New York company now has a roster of about 60 firefighters, Hageman said his company has come a long way over the last 40 years and understood the needs of the Schuylkill County firehouse. Citizens Fire Company has 10 active members.
"Things we take for granted in New York is a luxury for the companies here," Hageman said. "I give the guys here a lot of credit."
Unlike the volunteer companies in Pennsylvania, fire companies in New York are supported with tax dollars.
Pennsylvania provides grants to volunteer fire companies based on the number of calls and service population.
"About 95 percent of our funds come through fundraisers," Amos said.
The fire companies were also joined Friday by Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Edward A. Mann.
"I wanted to come down and recognize the guys from New York for donating the truck," Mann said Friday.
After gathering at the firehouse Friday, Amos said they were planning to take a tour of the Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville, visit the Schuylkill County Fire Academy in Frackville and the Schuylkill Historical Fire Society in Shenandoah, and enjoy the Ryan Township block party.
There was a parade through the borough at 1 p.m. Saturday followed by the housing of the fire vehicles.
"They treated us like royalty up there and I hope we are treating them just as well," Amos said Friday.
Copyright 2014 - Republican & Herald, Pottsville, Pa.