WAYNE COUNTY, PA — During a recent foam fire-fighting training session, Honesdale’s deputy chief, Brian Dulay, said that due to necessary expansion of the town’s sewer plant, which …
WAYNE COUNTY, PA — During a recent foam fire-fighting training session, Honesdale’s deputy chief, Brian Dulay, said that due to necessary expansion of the town’s sewer plant, which is owned by the Central Wayne Regional Authority (CWRA), the department has lost its 50-year training facility.
That was composed of a two-story masonry building, a three-story training tower, a one-story wooden building and related fire-fighting training systems.
While at the temporary training center, the deputy chief said the CWRA “was very generous to give us the use of this area… The good news of late is that the Wayne County Commissioners have been working, trying to put in a more permanent training facility out in Beach Lake near the recycling center.”
If it comes to pass, this would create a more central location for fire training.
Dulay noted that at present, if the firefighters need to train at a more advanced facility, they have to travel to Pike, Monroe or Luzerne counties.
“It wastes a lot of time, traveling back and forth, but it works,” he said.
On the subject of manpower, or the current need for more members, Dulay said that in recent years, membership among the four companies has declined to the point where each has approximately 10 to 15 active responders.
“One of the things we do to combat that is mutual aid,” he said. “We’re all getting through it together, the nationwide shortage of volunteers. I don’t know if there is a solution or an end in sight. It’s going to get to a point where it affects the safety of the public.”
The fire companies aren’t at that point yet, but are getting close “to what the fire commissioner of Pennsylvania said. ‘We’re trying to ring the alarm.’ We’ve been ringing the alarm for many years now, but no one’s joining… For a lot of companies, it’s a family affair, fathers, sons and their kids.”
Dulay, a graduate of Honesdale High’s Class of 2002, joined the fire department at the age of 16, and at 18 became a full member when he could “engage myself in firefighting.”
Reflecting on his early days in Hose Co. #1, he said, “I started driving a truck the day I turned 21.”
Taking time off before the start of the foam-training exercise, the deputy chief’s uncle, Jerry Dulay, now in his 52nd year with Honesdale, commented on the decline in volunteerism in the commonwealth, and had a few words to say about the future of the local fire service.
The veteran firefighter during his long career rose to the rank of captain. And over the last 15 or so years, he said, the state has seen the number of folks volunteering fall from a reported 300,000 to about 15,000, fueled in part by the number of hours it takes to become a full-fledged firefighter.
“Becoming a firefighter is public service, helping people,” said the long-time volunteer firefighter.
He added a glimmer of hope. ”We’re trying to get the younger members up to leadership, and we’ve got some really good talent coming up.”
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