Four Honored At Fire Warden’s Dinner
Four Fulton County residents were among the nine fire wardens recognized last Tuesday evening for their dedicated service to the Bureau of Forestry and, in particular, the Buchanan State Forest.
Edgar Lake of Harrisonville along with Arnold Hann from Wells Tannery and Hustontown resident Ralph Mellott were presented service certificates and pins from district forester Jim Smith and assistant district forester Bryan Wilford during the March 12 training dinner at the Breezewood Firehall.
Lake was noted as having completed 30 years of service as a fire warden, while Hann and Mellott followed at 35 and 45 years, respectively.
Meanwhile, fellow fire warden and Bureau of Forestry forest maintenance supervisor Christopher Lipko, who was unable to attend the annual dinner, was announced as having completed 25 years of service.
Others receiving certificates and recognition were Bedford County residents Jodi Skipper (10 years), Bryan Benton (25), James Foor (30), Richard Fuller (40) and David Williams (45).
Emcee for the evening, forest fire specialist supervisor Ray Miller, stood before the crowd with much good news, including tentative plans for the construction of a new office building for the Buchanan State Forest. Currently located adjacent to the main entrance to JLG Industries, the new plans call for a facility to be built on the western side of the former Gladflelter property located north of McConnellsburg near the village of Knobsville.
Miller said money has been earmarked for the project. Surveying has already been done where the accompanying roadway is to be placed, but no digging has occurred as of yet. The district office is slated to be built in 2014.
Charlie Choplick, the logistics and finance section chief for the Division of Forest Fire Protection, gave an overview of Pennsylvania’s fire statistics for the year 2012. The leading cause of the 717 reported blazes was debris fires, according to Choplick. Two hundred seven homes were reportedly threatened during the fires, and no fatalities were reported.
Choplick noted the largest fire last year occurred in District 17 in mid-April and was dubbed the “Hopewell fire.” He added the multi day fire affected 741 acres.
Dan LeCrone hailing from the Rothrock State Forest served as the keynote speaker and spoke of “risk management” with the fire wardens and crews. He urged those on hand to look at little things before they turn into big things.
LeCrone pointed out that even though there were not any fatalities in Pennsylvania last year, firefighting and emergency response are dangerous jobs that can result in injury or death. Coincidentally, 44 percent or the bulk of accidents occur while driving.
“Driving is the big killer out there,” LeCrone said. “It’s across the board ... slow down.”