JUDY DOLGOS-KRAMER/Special to the TIMES NEWS In addition to dedicating the new Lake Harmony Fire House on Saturday, the Hewitt Communications Room will also be dedicated by firefighters, in honor of the Robert E. Hewitt family, and the support its members have given the fire company.
The Lake Harmony Fire Company is planning a dedication ceremony Saturday, July 14 from 1-3 p.m. at its new firehouse on North Lake Drive in Lake Harmony. The public is invited to attend.
The event will begin at 1 p.m. with an open house and guided tours of the facilities. At 1:30 p.m. a dedication ceremony will take place, which will include the unveiling of a plaque recognizing the members, officers and volunteers who helped the fire company. There will also be a separate dedication of the Hewitt Communications Room, in recognition of the Robert Hewitt family for its efforts in supporting the fire company.
The dedication ceremony will conclude with the "housing" of the two newest acquisitions of the fire company a 2009 Pierce, 105-foot, 2,000 GPM, ladder truck and a restored 1994 Mack rescue truck.
Light refreshments will be served after the ceremony.
A few years ago members of Lake Harmony Firehouse, Engine Company 17, decided that they needed more room. Initial plans called for raising the roof on the existing building along North Lake Drive, but that plan did not address the lack of parking that the company was experiencing. Fortunately, local developer Frank Tyrol stepped in and donated three acres to the fire company. The land is directly across the road from the original firehouse.
Next, former Speaker of the House and state Rep. Keith McCall stepped in and directed the officers of the fire company to the PA Department of Community & Economic Development, where they were fortunate to secure a grant in the amount of $500,000 for construction of a new firehouse.
The company relied on its members, countless volunteers and local businesses to clear the site and prepare it for the improvements. Ralph Lennon, Lake Harmony's fire chief, estimates that the labor expended by the volunteers and the donations of heavy equipment by local businesses saved the fire company over $100,000.
The DCED grant was used for the initial phase of construction. Phase one, which was completed in October 2010, consisted of the basic structure, the engine room and the lower level office space. At that time the company moved into the new space.
Since then, while once again relying heavily on volunteer labor, the company has added a 2,400-square-foot meeting space on the ground floor. The upper level now houses fire company President Louis Montanara's office as well as the treasurer's office. It is also outfitted with a lounge that features a big-screen TV, which is currently used for training. There is also a full kitchen and laundry room.
The Lake Harmony Fire Company has future plans to use the upper level as a dormitory for a "Live-in Program." Live-in programs are used by other fire companies to attract college-aged volunteers to join the companies. Live-in members live at the fire house rent free in exchange for station duties. These duties range from cleaning the firehouse, to washing the trucks to fighting fires.
According to Lennon, many of these live-in members will stay with a fire company for two or more years.
Lennon and Montanara both accredit the new firehouse with having a positive effect on membership in the fire company. Prior to the move the number of volunteer firefighters at Lake Harmony averaged 11-15 members. Since moving into the new building in October 2010, the number has grown to 25 firefighters.
The old firehouse is owned by the fire company and is currently leased by a tenant. The property is for sale.