Fire departments from throughout Carbon County and beyond helped Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Company dedicate their newest apparatus on Sunday afternoon.
A truck parade that snaked through Franklin Township preceded the dedication of Franklin Township's new KME Tanker 431 to the members of the Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary.
The auxiliary was selected for the honor because of their hard work, dedication and their pledge to pay off the fire truck. So far the auxiliary has brought in enough funds to keep its promise.
Fire Chief Bruce Wolfe welcomed everyone, especially the visiting fire departments, to the dedication program.
"We're a band of brothers and we have to try to get along," said Wolfe. "We don't always agree, but we do the best we can."
Youth Pastor Keith House, a former firefighter, offered the invocation.
It's an honor and a privilege to be here," said House. "I'm pleased to be here to dedicate this fine piece of equipment. This equipment is not useful in itself. It's up to the men and women to operate it. This special piece of equipment will be used to serve the public."
Rod Green, chairman of the Franklin Township board of supervisors, said that he was proud to live in Franklin Township. He commended the fire fighters for their service to the community.
"They earned it," said Green. "They spent countless hours training and working at fundraisers to support the community."
"We have our very own heroes in this room," said Green. "Thank you. You are greatly appreciated."
Wolfe said that the new truck cost $266,000 and that there are two loans on it.
"We really didn't want to purchase a truck now, but we had no choice," said Wolfe. "That is why we are so grateful to the auxiliary. That is why we dedicated the truck to them."
Brenda Eckley, president of the auxiliary, said that she wanted to thank a lot of people. She thanked five KME employees are also active in the fire company: Steve Everett, Travis Strohl, Tyler Helmer, Bobby Smith and Adam Eckley.
"I am so glad we decided to purchase the fire truck at KME, a company so close to home," said Eckley. "By purchasing locally, we are keeping our local economy flowing and in return these KME employees can help support us in all our fundraising endeavors."
She also thanked the firefighters for the unselfish giving of precious time, her husband, Gary Eckley, her sister, Betty Wolfe and the active 140 men and women of the auxiliary. She gave a special thanks to Elsie Freundt who is 77 years old.
"Betty worked 80 shifts in 80 weeks," said Eckley. She honored Hazel Goodhile with 64 shifts, Ann Shoenberger with 62 shifts and Sandy Stohr with 54 shifts.
"When I took the helm 12 years ago, I vowed to always keep at least one weekend open a month to relax," she said. "When the community needed the tanker truck, we went into hyper drive. We took on every event possible to raise money for this much needed truck."
She said the auxiliary expanded the pizza sale to four times a year, sandwich sale to three times a year and filling sale from 75 quarts to 140 quarts.
She added that the flea market used to make $500 and now makes $2,000.
In addition to Eckley, other officers are, Peggy Alberici, vice president; Betty Wolfe, treasurer; Gail Steigerwalt, treasurer; Joy Andrews, financial secretary; and trustees, Rodi Bestider, Willie Kemmerer, Mary Schoenberger, Susie Green and Lana Kuehner.
The top volunteers were honored as grand marshalls during the parade.
The guest speaker was Chief Christopher Kiskeravage, assistant chief and training instructor for Allentown Fire Department.
Kiskeravage shared his background with the audience beginning when he appeared in his fire department parade at age 3, going through the ranks as an EMT and paramedic and firefighter to his present position.
He said that fire fighters share courage, commitment, dedication and entertainment. "Courage to do the right thing. Commitment to do the job. Dedication to see it through and entertainment, because laughter is important," he said.
Kiskeravage said that the hardest job is to be a father and husband.
"You have to balance your family time," he said. "Hats off to your families who allow you to leave and do what you do."
Kiskeravage said that if he ever moved to the area he would be proud to be a member of the Franklin Township Fire Co.
Bruce Wolfe then presented a plaque dedicating the Tanker 431 to the Brenda Eckley and asked Allen Goodhile to come forward to accept a plaque dedicating Rescue/Pumper 451 to Randy Goodhile.
Wolfe said that Goodhile passed away at the fire station during a dance to honor firefighters.
"It took a while to get over his loss," said Wolfe.
Andy Yenser, sales engineer with KME, presented the tanker to the fire company auxiliary. Betty Wolfe, longest serving member of the auxiliary was asked to christen the truck.
With a mighty smash of a champagne bottle on the fender of the new KME Tanker 431, she concluded the dedication program.