Let there be light! Boosting visibility and safety for Pennsylvania firefighters

Shermans Dale Fire Department provides emergency rescue and fire education to historic farming community

In his over 50 years of service with the Shermans Dale Fire Department, fire chief Mike Minich has answered just about every rescue call you can get.

“When I first started at the hall as a junior member, the 10 to 15 calls we received per year were considered high,” says Minich. “Now, we get anywhere between 350 and 400 in a given year.”

Minich rose to the position of fire chief in 1975. The approximately 55 currently active volunteer firefighters at Shermans Dale FD cover an area of about 225 square miles across four different Pennsylvania municipalities, answering emergency calls for fire and auto accidents as well as educating the community on fire preparedness and safety.

With almost one call a day, it’s important for these firefighters to see clearly as they suit up and ship out for rescue. A recent lighting project replaced all of the lights throughout the station, which has the added benefit of providing good lighting for fundraising events held at the hall.

“The light replacement project obviously increases safety for our firefighters when the emergency calls come through, but it also enhances our guests’ experience when we host events and fundraisers throughout the year,” says Minich.

Enbridge recently made a $16,500 Fueling Futures donation to Shermans Dale FD as part of our Safe Community First Responder Program. The grant funded a project that replaced all LED lights throughout the fire station, which was completed last year over a weekend with Shermans Dale fire fighters and two Enbridge employees.

What was once a small village in a farming community has rapidly grown to a high-traffic waypoint since Shermans Dale FD’s inception in 1952, explaining the exponential rise in emergency calls over the years.

Minich is one of only five fire chiefs in the hall’s history, and during his tenure he’s seen all sorts of growth in the service and manpower maintained. The latter is an ongoing challenge, but Minich hopes that implementing the hall’s recruitment efforts in nearby schools will increase enrolment and interest in volunteering.

“We can usually put 30 people on the ground of a major fire incident on the weekends or evenings, but we definitely face a struggle during daytime calls,” says Minich. “We are sometimes responding with minimal manpower—even dispatching some calls—so we need to attract more volunteers to fill that gap.”

Fundraising is a key part of the job as a volunteer, and the fire hall takes all the help it can get to maintain equipment standards and perform upgrades when necessary.

“The most rewarding part of the job for me is twofold: I get to see our company grow, and also work with partners like Enbridge who are willing to put a foot forward and help us progress.”