Firefighters are remembered
On Nov. 10, Catasauqua Fire Department held its annual open house and memorial service honoring members of the fire department who have died.
“This is not something we force people to do. Firefighters want to honor their peers who served the fire department,” Fire Chief Richard Hertzog said.
“These are volunteer firefighters. They don their gear to go out and protect the residents of the borough,” Councilman Brian McKittrick said.
The ceremony honors 44 members of Catasauqua Fire Department who have died. Three of the deceased died in the line of duty during the Unicorn Silk Mill Fire in 1890.
Councilwoman Christine Weaver gave a brief synopsis of the Unicorn fire and its impact on the development of a volunteer fire department in Catasauqua. Three firefighters in their mid-20s were among the dead when a portion of the building collapsed. Ulysses Everett, Charles Frick and John Good are honored at the Catasauqua Firefighter Memorial adjacent to the fire department garage.
Firefighters who served Catasauqua Fire Department are memorialized with bricks in the walk of honor surrounding the monument.
To honor those who have died, the fire bell is rung five times on four consecutive rounds.
“The symbolic gesture originated before wireless communications. On the death of a significant person or a firefighter, the bells echoed. The first instance of the symbol was at the death of Abraham Lincoln. The ritual is known as striking the four fives,” said Joe Carl, the borough’s emergency management coordinator.
After the ceremony, the station provided an open house tour and light refreshments.
A slide show was hosted by Kenneth Snyder. He has slides of Catasauqua Fire Department in action from the 1960s and ’70s, including some of the first applications of an elevated hose mounted on an articulating extension. Although the equipment is considered essential in today’s firefighting operation, it was a novelty in the early ’60s.
The slide presentation included some of the more significant disasters, including pictures of the debris from a midair collision that barely missed a mobile home.
All residents are encouraged to take a moment and visit the memorial on the west side of the fire station.