This past spring, Lake Harmony Fire Chief Ralph Lennon was named "Emergency Services Person of the Year" by the township. At the recent Pa. State Firemen's Association convention in Luzerne County, Lennon was the recipient of the James A. Miller Award, which recognizes him as "Fireman of the Year" for the entire state.
He was one of two emergency responders from Lake Harmony to receive statewide recognition at the convention. Scott Wuttke, an Emergency Medical Technician with the Lake Harmony Rescue Squad, also received the "EMT Leadership Award."
A year ago, a third Lake Harmony responder was honored at the state convention, at that time held in King of Prussia. Dan Plavin was the recipient of the "Junior Firefighter Award."
"It's wonderful that our department is getting such recognition," said Lennon, a volunteer firefighter for half a century, as he pointed out that the fire department in general has won 27 trophies this year in various fire services competitions. The department won seven awards at the state firemen's convention, including a first place for its marching unit.
Most of the trophies were for apparatus.
"We keep our apparatus in good condition. The guys learn how things work and that's why we've done so well," Lennon said.
Lennon was also thrilled by the individual awards.
"The fact we won last year (Junior Firefighter) and two this year from the whole state is mind boggling," he said.
Next year, the fire company will having a first. According to records of the Pa. State Firemen's Association, it will be the first Carbon County fire department to ever host the group's annual convention. Co-host will be the Albrightsville Fire Company.
The event will be held Sept. 21-24, with a parade held in Lake Harmony on the final day. The convention is expected to attract more than 10,000 firefighters and visitors to Lake Harmony.
Lennon was named co-chairman of the Pa. State Firemen's Association Convention and Parade Committee. He's credited with leading the campaign for a new aerial truck in the township and for providing leadership during a new building construction project that is nearing completion.
The James A. Miller Memorial "A" Award honors those individuals who by their service contributed to the welfare and improvements of the fire service in Pennsylvania "in an outstanding manner."
In March, the Kidder Township Supervisors named Lennon recipient of the "W. David Carew – Emergency Services Person of the Year" award recipient.
Lennon began his firefighting career in 1960 when he joined the Marion Hose Company of Jim Thorpe, remaining with the fire company until it dissolved in 1965.
In 1965, he moved to Cheltenham Township, and joined the Glenside Fire Company in Montgomery County where he remained an active member for more than 32 years, including three as fire chief.
Upon retirement, he moved back to Carbon County, locating in Lake Harmony where he served as a volunteer, participating primarily in the summer months. He has been a member of the Lake Harmony Fire Department since 1965.
He has served as chief for the past six years, and was assistant chief prior to that.
Logs of the fire company show he responds to over 95 percent of all the township's emergency calls every year, sometimes being the only responder. The state association, in presenting him with the award, said, "His firefighting experience enables him to provide the needed leadership to old and new members and to make intelligent decisions on the fire ground."
Besides being fire chief, he is a board member of the Lake Harmony Resque Squad and Ambulance Corps, and is often called upon to serve as an emergency driver (usually in the middle of the night) for the ambulance company.
The award recipient is credited with leading the movement to secure a 105-foot ladder truck to serve Kidder Township and the surrounding areas. The apparatus has proven to be invaluable numerous times at such locations as the Galleria resort where a fire erupted in a room several years ago and an explosion occurred in one area of the facility more recently.
As chairman of the Lake Harmony Volunteer Fire Company Building Committee, he helped to secure a large state grant which enabled construction to begin on a new fire station which will have dorm rooms and a recreation for live-in firemen – a new concept for Carbon County – and an effort to address the problem of attracting new volunteers.
Lennon was instrumental in re-establishing the Kidder Township Fire Commission that establishes policy and makes recommendations for all aspects of emergency services. He has served as chairman on that commission.
He is married to the former Elizabeth Lienhard. They have three children, Joe of Quakertown, who is a member of the Lake Harmony Fire Department; Susan Beal of Quakertown; and David of Conshohocken, who is a police officer.
Wuttke, a native of New Jersey, moved to the area in 1999. As an EMT, he has 20 years of public service.
Besides running with Lake Harmony Ambulance as a staff EMT, he is also staff supervisor for Palmerton Ambulance.
He has resided in Palmerton for the past three years and before that lived in Summit Hill, where he was a member of the Diligence Fire Company. He also previously served as an assistant fire chief in Hometown and an assistant fire chief at the Hauto Fire Company in Nesquehoning.
Wuttke said he became interested in the fire service because his father, Bob Wuttke, was a firefighter and a fire marshall in New Jersey.
He was hired by the Palmerton Ambulance Association in 2000 and in 2004, he was appointed supervisor and director of operations.
While directing operations at Palmerton, he has spearheaded the efforts to purchase two new ambulances, and has developed a student instructional program. As part of the instructional program, he conducts in-house classes and makes frequent visits to local schools, conducting fire, safety, and first aid classes.
One other major accomplishment during his tenure at Palmerton Ambulance is the financial stability he brought to the group.
When Wuttke received his state award, it was stated: "Throughout his tenure at Lake Harmony, Scott has demonstrated a vast knowledge of providing medical care and treatment. He is calm under stress and extremely cooperative when working with other ambulance personnel and/or fire companies.
"At a recent major fire at a local resort, the fire chief (incident command) assigned Scott the task of EMS Command. He systematically directed 11 ambulance companies, as they evacuated in excess of 400 people, treating and transporting numerous patients."
Scott also serves as an EMT instructor.