‘We work as sister departments’

Posted 9/29/22

LAVA, NY — As the proverbial crow flies, the all-volunteer fire departments of Lava and Narrowsburg are located about six miles apart.

Although they are quite different in size, both are …

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‘We work as sister departments’


LAVA, NY — As the proverbial crow flies, the all-volunteer fire departments of Lava and Narrowsburg are located about six miles apart.

Although they are quite different in size, both are vital to ensuring community safety.

The Lava Fire Department was founded in 1929, and celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2004. Narrowsburg was established in 1902, and held its centennial celebration in 2002.

Jesse Campfield, a Sullivan West graduate in 2012, serves as the current chief of the department. He joined the company as soon as he turned 17, and recalled, “I always wanted to join, but I waited until I was 17 and had a full driver’s license, so if we got calls at night, I could actually be able to drive.”

The chief said that while he was still in high school, Bruce Gettel, his vo-tech teacher, was also chief of the department. He “brought me up here one night and introduced me to everyone… I just fit in. The thing I liked about it the most was that I wasn’t treated like a kid, [but] just like another one of the guys.”

Campfield was elected chief in 2019 after serving as assistant chief for a year and a half.

In a nod to the younger generation coming up and in a pitch for new members, he said that while in high school, he “took as many classes (in firefighting) as I could.” It was training that laid the groundwork for the time he later responded to “a nasty car accident,” and so impressed the current chief that they later traded positions in the chain of command.

The Campfield clan has deep roots in the historically rich soil of the rural region. Those roots are marked by a sense of community service, as Jesse Campfield’s grandfather Floyd served for many years as a New York state trooper, while Floyd Campfield Jr. was well known for his “unofficial” life-saving river rescues at Skinners Falls on the Upper Delaware River back in the late 1970s and early ‘80s.

In talking about Lava’s close working relationship with the Narrowsburg Fire Department, Chief Campfield said, ”We work as sister departments. Everything they go to, we go to too, on automatic response within the township… We’re auto-dispatched together, and on mutual aid, we go to accidents and brush fires. We’ll go out if [they] need additional manpower.”

For Fire Prevention Week 2022, plans are in the works to team up with Narrowsburg at its fire station to present fire-safety awareness programs sometime during Fire Prevention Month in October.

On this year’s fire prevention theme, “Fire Won’t Wait, Plan Your Escape,” Chief Campfield said, “You always have to know which way to get out. You always want to plan a second escape route, unless you’re planning to go out the window in your bedroom.”

He noted that before opening a door to flee a fire, you should always check to see if the door is hot, as a deadly blaze could be lurking on the other side.

And once safely outside, ALWAYS CALL 911.

At present, the department has about 14 or 15 active members, led by line officers Jesse Campfield (chief), Clarence Reeves (1st assistant chief), Philip Glendon (2nd assistant chief), Scott Porter (captain) and Bruce Gettel (lieutenant).

“George Schluer is one of our oldest members, and is still one our most active members,” said Lava’s young chief. He added of the veteran truck driver and pump operator, “He’s one of the guys that when the tone goes out, usually within a couple of minutes, you’ll hear him on the air responding… even though he’s getting up there in age, he’s always at the fire scene.”

“Right now, I might be the youngest active member,” said 28-year old Chief Campfield.

The department is building a Facebook page on social media, but most of its events are posted on the Narrowsburg Fire Department’s Facebook page.

For more information about the Lava Fire Department, which is located at 7898 Rte. 52, call the station and leave a message at 845/252-3375, or stop by the firehouse on Thursdays at 7 p.m.  

Lava Fire Department, Narrowsburg Fire Department


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