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Long-awaited dedication in Summit Hill to occur July 24

  • Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS Officials of the Diligence Fire Company in Summit Hill stand in front of 2008 KME Predator pumper and their new fire station, both will be dedicated on July 24. From left are Larry Black, president; Shawn Hoben, fire chief; Len…
    Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS Officials of the Diligence Fire Company in Summit Hill stand in front of 2008 KME Predator pumper and their new fire station, both will be dedicated on July 24. From left are Larry Black, president; Shawn Hoben, fire chief; Len Ogozalek, assistant chief and grant writer; and Dave Sommers, vice president. The dedication events begin with a vehicle parade at 3 p.m.
Published July 01. 2010 05:00PM

It used to be that firefighters in Summit Hill had to turn the mirrors sideways on their apparatus to back the trucks into their old fire station.

The bays were so narrow that if they didn't, the trucks might hit. They then had to pull in their stomachs and squeeze their way out of the vehicle.

The 50-member Diligence Fire Company now has a spacious, five-bay station that adequately houses all it's equipment. The new, single-story building also has office space, a training room, and a roomy storage area.

The station, as well as a 2008 KME Predator pumper obtained new two years ago, will be dedicated on Saturday, July 24.

The dedication program includes an equipment parade at 3 p.m., with participation by fire companies from throughout Carbon County, as well as units from Schuylkill, Lehigh, and Northampton counties.

After the parade, there will be a formal dedication during which state Rep. Keith McCall, will serve as the main speaker. McCall obtained a large portion of the financing for the construction project.

Fire Company President Larry Black said the pumper will be dedicated in memory of John "Jackie" Stoudt, who died on Christmas Eve in 2004 after being stricken while responding to a fire.

"It was a line-of-duty death," said Black.

After the formalities, the band Shades of Gray will perform.

An open-house will occur most of the day.

Before the parade, participating apparatus will be judged starting at noon. The judging will be done in the vicinity of the Summit Hill cemeteries. Registration for the judging will be done at the fire station.

Shawn Hoben, fire chief, extended an invitation to any organizations in the community to raise funds by cooking or selling beverages at the dedication.

"All money raised will be 100 percent profit for that organization," he stressed. "It's a celebration of a new building and new fire apparatus.

Any organization interested should contact Hoben's wife, Judy, at (570) 645-0223.

Originally, dedication of the truck and fire station was scheduled last year. The postponement occurred because there were delays and defects by contractors in the firehouse's construction.

Although the station was originally scheduled to be completed in December 2008, the Diligence Fire Company wasn't able to move into it until late January of this year. Delays, cracked floors, and a faulty heating and air conditioning system had prevented earlier occupancy. The heating and air conditioning situation still hasn't been resolved.

Most of the floor on which the apparatus is parked was replaced even before occupancy, because cracks appeared.

The new station sits on the site of the former fire station in the 100 block of West Ludlow Street, across from the borough's community park. The former station, believed to have been built in the 1930s, had more serious problems than not being large enough for the fire company's needs. It had severe structural deterioration, including a leaking roof, serious cracks in the walls, and holes rusted into the steel floor support beams.

Black said it is appropriate for McCall to serve as the main speaker, because without his assistance, the building project wouldn't have been possible.

Also, McCall is a life-long resident of Summit Hill and still claims membership in the fire department.

The state representative, who serves as Speaker of the House, was instrumental in securing $1.25 million in state funding for the $3.5 million building project that included the fire station construction. The building project also included a new police station and borough hall, as well as demolition of the former fire station and borough hall. The previous borough hall was the former St. Joseph's School.

On behalf of the fire company, McCall also wrote a letter of recommendation for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to buy the new fire truck. The pumper cost $389,000, but the FEMA grant picked up $284,000 of the cost.

Hoben said the grant was achieved primarily through the efforts of a grant writing committee of the fire department, headed by Len Ogozalek, the assistant fire chief.

The 2008 pumper replaced a 1981 Mack, which remains out of service. The new truck is equipped with a 2,000-gallon-per-minute pumper.

At the conclusion of the formal part of the program, every piece of apparatus will be manually pushed into the new station, said Black.

"This goes back to when the fire stations housed old steamers which were pushed into the stations by hand. We will do that will all the trucks, giving them their first formal housing, " he explained.

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