Dave Derrick has been involved with a fire company pretty much most of his life; since the first time Willy Canfield stuck him on a fire truck until the present day. In fact, in the 40 some odd years that I have known Dave, I have always known that about him.
He became a fireman 27 years ago and has been a member of Great Bend Hose Company for the last 16 years, where he became our Chief nine years ago. The list of certifications under his belt is extensive, which includes Nationally Certified Firefighter I and II, Hazmat, Emergency Medical Technician, Water Rescue and Basic Vehicle Rescue. He operates with a calm demeanor at calls that makes even the newest of members at ease at even the most stressful calls. His training and experience, along with his patience, makes him an outstanding teacher to new members. He is greatly supported by Patty, his wife of 15 years and his five children Jessica 18, Ashlee 13, Marissa 9, Brianna 7, and Brian 4, who has the same mischievous twinkle in his eye as his father. Patty and Jessica are also members of Great Bend Hose Company, and greatly contribute to the many needs and functions throughout. Dave has an extensive mechanical background; he was a diesel mechanic for 25 years and is currently employed at Feduke Ford, where he has been for the last year.
When asked which call or calls stood out in his memory, he said there were too many to mention, but he did manage to single out a call where he had to rescue a cat stuck in a sewer pipe , the cat made it, the sewer pipe wasn’t so lucky.
I cannot help but think back to 2006, however, when our area was under water due to horrendous flooding for the first time that our generation had ever seen. Dave performed in that calm, methodical manner that he always does. Working through the night, rescuing stranded people, evacuating locations that were in trouble, and making sure people were safe, he just carried on. He organized operations for the town, state and federal officials to operate out of, housed stranded people at the hall, helped construct an access route so food and water could get in to town, and maintained a sense of order and control that words alone cannot describe, all the while his own house took on water. Then in 2011, our area was again hit with heavy rains and flooding, and Dave was at it again. Due to lessons learned from ’06, he knew what had to be done ahead of time and where the most vulnerable areas were. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that we were being taken care of. There is no question that whatever the situation, anyone would want Dave there handling it; if not for his expertise and experience, for his calming and supportive manner. Through his supportive family, his years of experience and training, Dave has become an outstanding fireman, an honorable Chief, and an amazing friend that anyone would be proud to know. Thank you, Dave, for your many years of service to the company and to the community.
Great Bend Hose Company has been home to Brad Marvin for 12 years. He has been our First Assistant Chief for the last three years, and a fine one at that. There is so much to be said about Brad, yet difficult to put into words unless you really know him. I first met him during the flood of ’06, and then in 2011, when he and many others worked through the night and several days following, rescuing people from the approaching high water of the Susquehanna River. I saw a quiet, dedicated firefighter that is all business when the gear comes on.
Brad’s list of training and certifications would make War and Peace look like a pocket paperback, some of which include Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Hazmat Ops, Hazmat Awareness, Water Rescue, Ice Water Rescue, Boat Rescue, Firefighter Survival, Emergency Medical Technician, Basic Vehicle Rescue, Advanced Vehicle Rescue, and that is what he could name off the top of his head. There is no doubt that Brad is ready for whatever situation should arise on his watch.
He and his wife, Lisa, have been married for six years. They have just celebrated the birth of their first child, Alexa, born in February. Lisa is also a valued and dedicated firefighter with GBHC. She and Brad are the type of couple who are a joy to be around with her infectious smile and his quick witted sense of humor. Brad is currently employed at PennDot ; in recent years he has also driven tractor trailers and I have been told he is quite mechanically inclined.
A first impression of Brad might make one want to approach with caution. At least it did me, but do not let his straight-faced glance fool you. He is quick with an off the cuff joke or to bust the hump of his fellow firefighters. He observes a lot of what goes on around him at every moment, and if you watch him from a distance, you can tell his mind is always working on something. Brad is what I would call a gentle giant. Just from what I have gathered about him in a few short months, I can tell that he would give the shirt off his back to help someone if need be. His words are few, but he speaks with authority. He will tell you exactly what is on his mind at any given moment. Yet, do not be mistaken in the fact that when it comes to the business of being a firefighter, Brad is all business. From the victims at a scene to the firefighters that are under his command, he takes on the responsibility of protecting them all. Brad takes what he does with a passion and dedication that is rarely seen. On behalf of GBHC, I would like to say, Thank you, Brad, for your insight, your knowledge, and your service to your company and your community.
When talking about Great Bend
Hose Company’s 2nd Assistant Chief, Jim Canfield, there are many qualities to
be said about him.
Jim has been a fireman with GBHC since 1999 and has many trainings and certifications under his belt; some of which include, Basic Vehicle Rescue, RIT, he is US Forestry Certified, EVAC, Pump Op I and II and Essentials. He has been our 2nd Assistant for three years.
In his younger years, Jim kept to himself pretty much, but has really come out of his shell being on the fire company. There is no doubt that he belongs there and gives the company as much as the company gives back to him.
Jim, for one thing is a workhorse, not afraid to “get his hands dirty” or do the heavy stuff, when it comes to a big job that needs to be done, he’s there, and when it came to taking care of the community during both floods, Jim was another one who put in days at the station and on the trucks.
I can tell you from talking to the other members of the company, that Jim is very trusted and looked up to by his fellow men. When on the scene, he makes well thought out decisions about the safety of the men below him. He is a wonderful teacher to the new comers to the company and does not hesitate to show or tell them what they need to know. He quickly gains a trust between the rookies and himself. Through all this dedication and knowledge, however, is a quick witted comedian who will not hesitate to take the opportunity to razz a fellow member, but I can tell you first hand, he is one of the first to make me feel at home with the company.
Jim is also a very passionate firefighter. According to his wife, Tracy, he lives, eats, breathes GBHC. It’s not hard to learn that about him after being around him for a short time.
Jim and Tracy have been married for only a few short months, with the celebration of their wedding on September 24, 2011. Tracy is also a very valued member of GBHC.
When not fighting fires or teaching what he knows, Jim works for Hallstead Borough maintaining the town properties, roads and parks, not a small job at all. In his spare time he enjoys playing poker, Tioga Downs, and I’ve heard him mention the NY Giants a time or two.
On the lighter side of things, one stigma about being a firefighter is the infamous “rescue of the cat”. Well Jim boats four, two from the top of a house, one from a tree and he was on the incredible cat in a storm drain rescue, also.
All kidding aside, Jim is a valuable asset to the company, one GBHC would not know what to do without. With his youth on his side I can see many more years of service in Jim’s future. Jim, from your humor, knowledge, patience, to your all around dedication, we thank you for everything you do for the company and the community.
There is practically no one in the county that can mention Great Bend Hose Company without bringing to mind Mike Lonzinski. Mike, who has been a member of GBHC for 49 years, is also the oldest active firefighter in the company. He joined the company at 16 years old, and now at a mere 65 years young, I think it would be safe to say that Mike has seen it all, and if he hasn’t, it wasn’t worth seeing.
He wears his age well; as you would never know by his actions or looks that, he is a few generations ahead of us all. Mike joined in the days when training was determined by the experiences you had, not classroom hours determined by the state or county; over the years, however, he has attained over 40 different certifications in the field. He ran on the Great Bend/Hallstead Ambulance for at least ten years, he was an EMT for three years. He was EMS Coordinator for the Borough for 12 years.
Mike currently holds the office of Third Assistant Chief of GBHC, and in his many years of service, has previously held every rank within the company at one time or another.
It is safe to say that he knows his way around a fire truck, whether it be the Engine, the Rescue, the Tanker or the Brush Truck, and he can operate them all with expertise. He told me, in great detail that was way over my head, about how our now prized possession, the old ’38 Ford, was still in service when he joined, about the ’47 Ford, the ’56 Chevy Tanker, the ’68 Ford, the ’77 Ford they went to Indiana to get and drive all the way back.
There is no shortage of old stories when Mike is around and people around him listen intently, as he tells of years gone by, because surely it will end with an eye opening twist or make you laugh so hard your stomach hurts. I for one love listening to his stories of the “old days” before fire was a science and putting one out was just something you did to help your neighbor. He has seen a lot of tragedy through the years and been a part of a lot of triumph, and obviously, his love of what he does keeps him going.
Everyone knows that behind a great man is a great woman. Mike’s wife, Dolly, who is also an intricate part of GBHC, and has been for 35 years does a great job of keeping Mike grounded and not spreading himself too thin. Mike and Dolly just celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary on March 6th of this year.
Mike can take a good ribbing, and being our elder, brings him plenty. He has various nicknames he is known by such as, Grandpa, Uncle Mike, Old Man, and in the colder months when he sports his beard, Abe and “the Amish Guy”, but make no mistake, he gives as good as he gets. I do not think Mike knows, however, just how much admiration and respect the members of this company hold for him. It is immeasurable.
Mike was employed at IBM for 30 years before he retired; if you can really say he retired. To my knowledge he still works alongside his grandson Scott, doing construction, and does the maintenance on our buildings for the company. Mike was also one of the many who put in countless sleepless hours during both floods. There is not enough paper or ink to list everything that Mike Lonzinski brings to GBHC and its members. There is no amount of thanks, that we could extend to him that would measure our gratitude for all he has done for us.
He protects us like a father, teaches us like a mentor, laughs with us like a friend and scolds us like a parent. He will push you to be better and knock you down when the chip on your shoulder gets too big and we listen because we know that his knowledge, experience and guidance will not steer us wrong.
Let it be known that Great Bend Hose Company is as much a part of Mike Lonzinski as Mike Lonzinski is a part of Great Bend Hose Company; it is understood that one without the other is not complete.
Mike, I cannot express the abundance of gratitude and admiration this company holds for you and what you bring to it. On behalf of all of us, Thank you, it is an honor and a privilege to serve the community alongside you.
For as long as I have known Chris
Fish, he always wanted to be a firefighter. I remember a tiny, quiet little
kid, all of ten years old, sitting in my living room trading baseball cards
with my husband and talking about joining Great Bend Hose Company someday. In
1991, he came running to my house to tell us he had joined. His dream came
ld tell us on occasion about going
to Tuesday night training sessions, awaiting classes and certifications to come
up that he could take, some of which include, Essentials, BVR, and Hazmat Ops.
After 21 years and many classes, certifications and Tuesday night practices later, he has been our Captain for the last three years.
Affectionately known as “Fishy,” “Guppy” or more often just “Gup,” Chris displays a calmness and diligence about doing his job on a call, that radiates to the rest of the company responding with him.
He is another member to not let his quiet demeanor fool you. Chris is usually taking it all in and processing the situation. He is a great teacher to learn from and takes the time to teach new members and the juniors what they need to know.
He is another member that spent countless hours evacuating, rescuing, and doing pumping detail during the floods of ’06 and ’11, and when he was not out, he was at the station taking care of what needed to be done there.
He, like the rest of the members of GBHC, enjoys a good practical joke and a ton of ribbing with everyone, both giving and receiving; and like all the others, once the gear goes on he is all business.
When he is not fighting fires, Chris has his own construction business, and his work displays his fine craftsmanship qualities. In his leisure time, he bowls, golfs, and takes in a Yankee game from time to time.
Chris is not married and has no children, which affords him a great deal of time doing what he loves, and given his young age I can see many years of service from Chris yet to come. I for one have enjoyed watching him grow up and finally achieve his dream and see him do it well, as well as continuing to progress with it. Gup, keep on doing what you’re doing and on behalf of all of us, thank you for what you do for the community and the company, you are an asset to us all.
Mike Welsch is a pretty complex character around the premise of Great Bend Hose Company, to say the least. Although he does not like being in the spotlight of things at all, he certainly deserves to be.
He joined our company in 1992 and quickly started attaining his certifications and trainings such as FF I, BVR Tech, Water Rescue Tech, EMT-B, HAZMAT OPS, EVOC along with many others. He was previously a member of Great Bend Hallstead Ambulance Service and plays vital role in our company operations. He has been our Lieutenant for three years.
He is an extremely quiet individual but a constantly observing one who takes in everything around him and assesses any situation large or small. One might think at first that he is far too serious to be mixed up with the comedic characters that populate GBHC, but nothing could be further from the truth. Mike knows how to hold his own and get the zingers in when it is necessary. He’s probably so good at it because he’s the one you expect it out of the least. That being said, Mike is most definitely all business when the tones drop. He carries himself very cool and calm when on a scene and is very stern about the business at hand. Yet, as one of our training officers, he is one of the best to go to with questions or to be shown how to do something. He will take the time, at any time, to teach new members the ropes and the proper way to do anything. He is a by the book guy and runs his calls to the letter of how they should be run. It is very evident that Mike loves what he does around GBHC.
Mike can be found at the station at any given time, cleaning up, re-supplying the trucks, doing routine maintenance, and just making sure that everything is in order so that when there is a call, things run as smoothly as possible. Incredibly, he does this after being diagnosed with Cancer a few years ago and thankfully has been in remission for the last couple of years. He does this with a superb support system that is made up of his friends and a wonderful family. Mike and his wife, Lisa, have been together for the last 20 years and have been married 10. They have two wonderful boys Michael, 18 and Mathew 15 who can put a smile on anyone’s face when they enter the room. I am sure the three of them are the key to how Mike is able to keep going like he does. He is a true inspiration to all of us, as he does all this with a smile on his face and a determination that is rarely found just anywhere. Mike does all this without command of a “Thank You”, or a pat on the back or even a handshake, he just does what he does continually and asks for no recognition of any kind. So if you’re out and about and happen to run into him, give him that “Thank You” or pat on the back, because he deserves it; and on behalf of the company and our community a big “Thank You, Mike, we’d be lost without you.
I must apologize for the lateness of this month’s article. Often times the simplest of souls can be the most difficult to write about.
Most of the time when we think of a firefighter, we think of the typical guy donning the heavy fire gear, boarding a large truck heading off to an emergency. Hardly ever, does anyone think of the many people behind the scenes that literally hold the company together. Bob Loucks fits that bill. I must start off by saying that most of my information for this article has been provided by members, former members, friends and relatives of Bob rather than interview him directly. Bob is not one to want to be in the limelight or to have any sort of notoriety and I am sure that he would have felt on the spot if I had proposed to talk to him for this specific reason. To Bob, he just does what he does because he has a passion and dedication to this company that cannot be compared nor will it ever be matched. It will be a sad day and a large void left if there ever comes a day when Bob “hangs up his hat” and hands the reigns over to someone else. It is not conveyed nearly enough just how much we appreciate and depend on what he does for all of us.
Bob served as GBHC president for 35 years, but he has been oh so much more than that to the company. Even though he has stepped down as President, he is still called upon when a rule, law or bylaw is in question. If we need to know how it was handled, planned or carried out in the past, Bob is our “go to” guy. I have failed to get a solid number on how many years he has been a member here, I often wonder if he was just born a member. There is a long line of Loucks history within the halls of GBHC. For as long as I have been around, and much much longer, he has always been a part one way or another of Great Bend Hose Company. Hell, at one time, I thought he owned it. I have caught whispers from others that it was thought that at one time Bob did run on calls; his nephew has seen turn out gear that was once his, so there must be some truth to those whispers. I do remember, however, a time when Bob had the help of an Auxiliary, when he used to come to calls yielding food and drinks for whomever needed them on lengthy calls. I have also been present during two floods where he spent 95% of his time cooking for members, volunteers, and shelter victims. See, that is how Bob rolls. He makes a point of taking care of the other members when there is a crisis or natural disaster present. More so than that, he takes care of the company as a whole as well as the community. He’s not one to come out and ask for a helping hand in doing all that he does, he just does it, he accepts and welcomes whoever happens to show up to help.
He has been the organizer of our Wednesday night Bingo since probably the beginning of time. On top of that, he plans the menu that will be on tap for that night. Many people will vouch for the fact that if you have ever been around when Bob is cooking and gone away hungry, it is your own fault. Portion control be damned, eat until you’re full. He plans and prepares the foods requested for any event that is planned in our hall be it weddings, banquets, showers, or parties; a job that he trained for and inherited from his mother, Lois. Before my time here, I am told it was known as Lois’s kitchen. It is now known as Bob’s kitchen. He spent many years planning and organizing our annual Christmas Bazaar; which I am delighted to say we are bringing back this year. This event was a post Thanksgiving tradition for me and countless others that were saddened to see it go; and although it was never a huge money maker for the company, Bob’s enjoyment of the whole thing was to see all the happy children that came to visit Santa and sit on his knee. Bob also enjoyed going out around the town to help string the Christmas lights throughout the community. I think it was Bob’s way of spreading Christmas cheer around the town that he loves so much. Some years ago he got pleasure out of planning and organizing our Halloween party, another event where he could bring happy smiles to many children’s faces.
Never married, Bob’s home life revolved around his parents, Porky and Lois, who are now deceased; his sisters, Ruthie and Tammy and nephew Kyle, who has taken the reigns of the Presidency in hand. He was a long time employee of PennDot, now retired and leisure time for Bob is his cottage at East Lake, which is his second passion. I am told that fishing off his dock and having impromptu cookouts and gatherings is the only other thing he lives for other than GBHC. I have seen what he can do in the kitchen, I imagine he’s a master of the BBQ as well. It has been relayed to me, however, that back in the day, when Bob decided to break out of the norm, and let his hair down, or lack thereof, if he was so inclined as to have a couple of “cold ones” he did a heck of a rendition of “Elvira” now and then. (Thanks Ted) Hmmmm…maybe I could be so lucky as to one day hear this Bob Loucks version of that old country song. Bob is not lacking in friends by any means, and I would go so far as to say that my sister-in-law, Maureen is one of his best. She, years ago would make her Saturday morning “rounds” around town where she stopped by select houses, had a cup of coffee, chatted and went to the next. Bob’s house was always her “stop” right before mine. She has told me in the 25+ years that I’ve known her about how they caroused around together back in their younger days, and the conversations always ended in laughter. Bob was never one to take too much time away from the company though. Bingo has to be done, food has to be made and events have to be catered to. So as weekends pass, and the workweek starts, at some point you’ll find him at the hall.
On top of all that, Bob is one heck of a craftsman. He and Lenore Phillips have done woodworking and crafts ever since I can remember. They often would have a table or two set up at the bazaar every year, and every year I made a point to buy something from them for our home. They have had a shop together for a number of years now, located on Carroll Street in Great Bend called Season’s Delights that is definitely worth stopping by and checking out. I have seen many things they have made and they are simply breathtaking.
Now we come to the part of this article where I have difficulty formulating the right words to convey the feeling I want to share. I can only hope that by saying, Bob, you are the keystone to our foundation here. Without you “we” would not “be.” You carry our load on your back every day, without complaint, because it is what you love to do. We may not tell you nearly as often as we should but you are appreciated more than you know. You have done what you do for so long and so well, you are engrained in the woodwork that surrounds us. Just about everything that comes about in this company, has been touched by your hand in some form or fashion. Great Bend is a better place because of you and what you bring to it. Thank you, from all of us.