In early September the Lake Harmony Volunteer Fire Company acquired a used 1988 Mack 1000 GPM pumper/engine from a fire house in New Jersey. The truck needed to be re-lettered and re-outfitted for service.
A mere two weeks later, that truck took first place at New Jersey State Fire Fighter Convention in Wildwood, N.J.
That was just the tip of the iceberg for the dedicated men and women of District 17. Lake Harmony Volunteer Fire Company took home nine awards at the Pennsylvania State Firemen's Convention just last weekend.
"We made history," said Stephen Lilick, deputy chief of the Lake Harmony fire department, as well as northeast director of the Pennsylvania State Firemen's Association.
"The organizers said that they could not remember a time when any fire company won more than six awards."
The fire company took first place in its tanker category, engine category, rescue truck category, ladder truck category and antique apparatus category. The firemen and ladies auxiliary also marched in the parade to music played by the Cheltenham High School band. Cheltenham, which is located outside of Philadelphia, is where local firefighter and resident master carpenter, Joe Lennon, teaches industrial arts. The band took first place among high school bands, while the Lake Harmony men and women took third place.
"It's a little like David and Goliath," according to Fire Chief Ralph Lennon. "We regularly compete against fire companies with hundreds of members and millions of dollars in equipment.
Chief Lennon worries that some people might not understand the reason behind the competitions.
"These shows serve at least two purposes. First, its serves to keep the apparatus in peak shape. These guys are working on these trucks all the time. Preparing for a show, they find a mechanical problem or a piece of on-board equipment that's not working, it gets fixed. We don't want the problem to show up when we are on a fire call, which would be unacceptable."
Secondly is recruitment. The fire company is always looking for new members.
There is a third aspect as well. Last year Lake Harmony was host to the Pennsylvania Firemen's Convention. The convention brought thousands of firefighter and their families to the area for a week in September. Lennon says people already ask when they are going to host another convention. According to Lennon they would possibly consider submitting another application for 2015 or later.
Lilick noted that the PA State convention for 2013 is slated to be hosted by West Chester's Fame Fire Company and 2014 will be held by Meadville Fire Company, which is located south of Erie.
The nine trophies brought home from the Pennsylvania State convention brings the number of awards for 2012 to 39. The company has 34 first place, three second place and two third place awards for the year.
Chief Lennon laughs when he says, "We can only go down from here."