Responding from the 93 Fire Headquarters in the Heart of Old Forge, the 93 Engine covers approximately 10 square miles and serves a population of nearly 14,000 people. We are first due 24/7, 365 days a year, and 100% volunteer. Currently operating a 2002 E-One engine, with seating for six, our members operate with Ladder 93 and Engine 93-3 to form the Old Forge Fire Department. Engine 93 responds to around 250 calls annually including, but not limited to: Working Fires, Investigations, Rescues, Haz-Mat, Vehicle Fires and stand-bys. The 93 Engine’s primary goal is to provide top-notch fire suppression, operations and public assistance, while maintaining respect, safety and a professional attitude. If you have an interest in joining Engine 93, please visit our “Join Us” page to the left for application information!
Back in 1874 when Old Forge Township was forming the Lawrenceville Hose Company began. It all started in a small one story red building located on the comer of what is now Drake and Center street. It is believed that a hose cart with two horses were used to protect this section of the township. Not much else was past on in information except a picture of the original members standing in front of the station. This was to be around 1898.
In 1899 when Old Forge became a Borough, the Lawrence Hose Company also chartered in December to become the boroughs first official fire department even though they formed 25 years earlier. As the saying went ”they dropped the ville when they came off the hill”, as the company moved into its new quarters at 945 South Main Street.
One story passed on through its older members was that the horses used at that time were housed in a barn at the location of the current Animal Hospital on South Main Street. Every time they had a alarm they would have to go to the barn and hook them to the cart before they could respond. This made the response times quite long.
The original alarm system was a steam whistle which was heard through out the lower part of town and a indicator with a bell on it was mounted inside the station, the indicator read out the location where the alarm was pulled. These red boxes produced many false alarms in those days but it is a system still being used today in some small communities in the Untied States.
The original system used, made by Gamewell industries is on display in the borough building. This system was used into the 50’s. The steam came from a underground pipe from a breaker owned by the Pennsylvania Coal Company located across from the station. It also served as the heating source for quite sometime.
In 1914 the first motorized pumper was delivered by American LaFrance. The vehicle was chain driven and had hard rubber tires. This vehicle had a short life span. In 1926 when twin pumpers were delivered. One was for, our company and the other was for the Jermyn Engine Company (now known as Old Forge Hose & Engine Company).
One story passed down from that time the pumpers were taken off the train, a major fire down in the Babylon section of town had begun with fire blowing on both sides of the street. The members decided to take the one of the new engines. The story goes that they actually drove right through the fire and as they continued down the road all the guys were jumping off realizing this might not have been the smartest thing to do. When the driver finally stopped at the fire hydrant he then realized he had no crew left on the vehicle.
In the early records most of the information was not well kept and pictures were very hard to come by. But one picture in the 1920’s showed the members took their retired hose cart to a parade in Tunkannock. It was believed they loaded it on the train near the companies headquarters and traveled up north. The company was very active in the Northeast Fireman’s Federation.
In the 30’s the Fire Chief was Jack Frieze, He kept the company active and was very popular. Other Chiefs to follow were Charlie Gaylets, and John Monelli. All these men were greatly respected through out the community.
In 1946 the company”s next vehicle was delivered. This vehicle was also an American LaFrance,, and had a semi enclosed cab and a curb side pump panel. These concepts were way ahead of there time. From the original archives of American LaFrance there were only six vehicles made this way of which only two are left today, one in Columbus, Ohio, and ours being stored hopefully to be restored someday.
This vehicle stayed in service until 1968 when it was retired. During this time period Vernon Gray and Garf Hughes were two members spearheading many of the company decisions.
When the 50’s rolled around, the Company had some major changes take place. Up until in 1957 the company ran a seven day picnic on the grounds of the Insalaco’s Supermarket (now Rossi’s Market). With dismal profits being produced from these carnivals, the members passed a motion to never run a picnic again and all the equipment was sold off.
|Another big change occurred when the dispatching was being done by phone to our headquarters. The dispatcher would the sound out all the companies sirens from this location. This meant someone had to be at headquarters around the clock. There were several families that lived at the Station which had a 4 room apartment in the back. Some names which come to mind are the Gaylets family and the Hughes family. Garf and Sabe Hughes were like the parents to all the members. After every call Sabe would make coffee and put food from her own refrigerator out for the me to be supportive of their hard work. “Some names which come to mind are the Gaylets familynd the Hughes family…..”.|
As the company entered into the sixties, a upstart group of young members took hold and kept up the quality of service they had provided since its beginning. But by the middle sixties money was becoming harder to get so the four fire companies went to the council to seek help. in the next few years the council helped fund new equipment for each department.
|The company took delivery of a new 1968 custom Ward LaFrance which met some resistance from some of the older members as they looked to refurbished the 1946 model engine This seemed to be what was called the changing of the guard as most of the active members came from the younger group. Even the first Italian was able to join the company at this time which was unheard of since the lower section of town was mostly Welsh, Scottish, German, and English.|
In 1970 the George Hughes became the new chief, who held this term until 1989. He was responsible for building the Ambulance into a very strong separate organization. At that time most members ran in both companies and Chief Hughes with the Ambulance President Thomas Gaylets, kept it one of the most recognized in the area. Chief Hughes also put a lot of time into help build a Rescue Company. So in 1975 an addition was put on to house the first vehicle. This vehicle lasted only 4 years and was replaced with a mini-pumper, a 1979 Ward LaFrance. This vehicle ran a duel purpose, being used on fires and accidents. With the whole fire department concept of training becoming a necessity,
Asst. Chief Jim Cardamone took the time to initiate an excellent set of training classes for its younger members, a group which started to increase in numbers at that time. Jim would attend training classes in other areas of the state with current Chief Bob Auliso and Asst. Chief Ed Orzalek. They then brought back many changes which dramatically transformed how the department fought fires. More and more interior fire fighting was taking shape and the traditional defensive style was becoming a last resort not the first option.
When several sets of bunker gear were purchased in 1981, the tradition of the coat and boots that were used since the early 1900’s was replaced. Also the dispatching system was no longer being used as Lackawanna County Communication Center took shape. Personal type pagers were now being issued.
|By 1985 the company had delivered a FMC pumper with 1250 gpm pump, it was the largest size pump in the town at that time. Soon to follow was a new Rescue in 1988 made by Salisbury. In 1989 Chief Hughes retired as Jim Cardamone became the new Chief.|
|When 1990 rolled in so did the first fully enclosed cab Engine which was made by Emergency One. This vehicle had a very unique design in that the motor was in the rear of the vehicle. This gave a much bigger cab design and more safety for the firefighters, it also had 1500 gpm size pump.|
The 90’s probably have seen the most change not only in the company, but also in the structure of the borough’s fire department. The first step was eliminating all the Chiefs and Asst. Chiefs and going to one set of officers.
|The companies would then be run by Captain and Lieutenants. When a committee was formed the following were chosen to be the officers, Bob Aulisio; Chief, Jim Cardamone: Asst. Chief, and Ed Orzalek; Asst. Chief This new format and new operating procedures were used by example in many areas of the county.|
The new person to lead the company was Captain Jim Williams. One of the first things done was to assign riding positions in the vehicles so each member new their job, this format is very widely used today. It would make the jobs much easier as you would normally have one task on a first alarm assignment. Also the training really became evident as the company traveled all over the state taking as many classes as possible. By 1994 all active members received Firefighter I Certification.
The engine and ladder coming out the Station at the borough building jobs were made more efficient and easier. As 1994 ended with the ambulance association and the borough council in turmoil over who had the authority to run the Rescue, it was decided to forgo running the rescue to calls.
|So the vehicle was sold and a spare Engine purchased. It was a 1980 Mack Pumper formally from New York City Fire By the late 1990’s the Company as added everything from state of the art air packs with built in alarm safety systems in case of a firefighter being trapped, to CO detection kits, to its biggest prize, a MSA Argus Thermal Imaging Camera. The camera was the first delivered in the state of Pa. in 1996.|
The E-one also took a little different look when in 1997 when it had a raised roof, 6 inch rear intake, and very important item a Class A Foam system which is used on just about every working fire. The stripping was also done the same as the Ladder Company.
|A working agreement with the borough of Moosic was instituted where the Engine 93 and Ladder 93 from our Station would respond on all first alarm calls to Moosic and Engine 98 and Rescue 98 would respond to first alarms in Old Forge. This increased our coverage area to 20 sq. miles.|
With this bring in us to recent times we would be remised if we didn’t talk about our proudest of accomplishments. Our Fire Prevention started going to the Elementary Schools in the early 80’s. In 1989 when Chief Auliso’s job didn’t allow him to continue, Asst. Chief Jim Cardamone and Captain Jim Williams took the reigns. In the first 2 years we increased our program from 90 children to 200. In 1997, a new member joined our team, a very popular Pluggie our new talking Fire Hydrant. In his first year he did over 10 shows and to date he has started going to the Elementary Schools in the early 80’s. In his first year he did over 10 shows and to date he has done over 120 very successful Fire Prevention Programs.
|The most gratifying part of our job is seeing the impact we have made on the children of Old Forge and children from surrounding areas. Between Captain Williams, Lieutenant May, and host of members from the three company we have brought this program to over 500 children this year. Also with the help of the PTA the Fire Safety House has become a regular stop in the borough of Old Forge. We are very thankful for our roots and promise to build on what was started in 1874 in a small red firehouse.|