Lenola Volunteer Fire Company celebrates 100 years

Tom DiPaolo was introduced to firefighting very early in his life.

Growing up in Lenola, her neighbors — husband and wife Ginny and Rob Konecsny — were volunteer firefighters. The young man’s curiosity was piqued and he eventually joined the Lenola Volunteer Fire Company.

Seventeen years later, it’s still something he’s very proud of.

A graduate of Moorestown High School in 2004, DiPaolo, 36, is even prouder as the company celebrates 100e birthday this year.

A big celebration scheduled for Sept. 10 will include bouncy houses for kids, face painting, balloon animals, appearances from local politicians, community leaders and more.

“The business has always been 100% voluntary and many generations have grown up in the area and passed through it, so I think it’s a testament to the longevity of the business,” said DiPaolo, vice president. of Lenola Volunteer Fire Company. and full-time battalion chief and fire inspector with Moorestown Fire District 2. “You have your first group of guys, then their kids join, then their kids join and so on and so on. The Lenola area of ​​Moorestown is a close-knit community. Even if you are a first generation like me. It is a place where you feel like home.

DiPaolo credits conversations with the Konecsnys — both life members, and he a retired Moorestown police officer — with pointing him towards firefighting.

“Growing up next to them, I was kind of like basically right next to the emergency services side of town and saw them coming and going.”

A century of service

The Lenola Volunteer Fire Company quickly became the center of the community after its founding in 1922, the year Betty White, Ava Gardner and Judy Garland and US President Warren G. Harding were born.

Jim Carruthers, a 2015 Moorestown High graduate, has worked for the Lenola Volunteer Fire Company, which is located in Moorestown Fire District 2, for about 10 years, starting as a junior firefighter. He is also a fire investigator and fire inspector for Moorestown Fire District 1.

A fire truck is displayed at the Lenola Volunteer Fire Company, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.  A big party is planned for September 10.

“Lenola is one of those communities that you don’t see much anymore. Little has changed. There hasn’t been a lot of development,” Carruthers, 25, said. “There are many second, third and fourth generation families who have grown up and continue to live in the community. Everyone knows each other in a way, especially being part of the fire department. You get to know a lot of different families. You are likely to be invited to someone’s house for a dinner party, a barbecue or something like that. Everyone knows each other. In the street, everyone says hello.

The 100e the anniversary celebration was about to kick off at noon and begin with an opening ceremony with guest speakers and several presentations. U.S. Representative Andy Kim and State Senator Troy Singleton, a native of Willingboro, were expected, DiPaolo added.

Lenola Volunteer Fire Company has been around for a century.  The Moorestown-based fire company has planned a big celebratory event for September 10.

“Once all of this is done, we will release everyone into the festivities,” he shared. “The back parking lot we’ll have a ton of stuff for the kids including a Velcro football game, ice cream, pretzels, brand new. The adults will have a beer garden set up. There will be throws of adult axes. Bury the Hatchet, they pull out a trailer.

The main event is the rally, he said, which is like a car show but for fire trucks. They hoped that around 300 to 400 people would show up throughout the day.

There is still work to do

DiPaolo says they have about 17-25 active members, who show up to make calls. Five women are part of the company, including Lenola Volunteer Fire Company Fire Police Captain Jamie Boren. They average 300 to 350 calls a year, which “technically isn’t a lot compared to other surrounding stations like Cinnaminson, Mount Laurel, places like that. It’s a good thing, of course, not to have so many emergency calls.

After:Walter Miller III appointed new Chief Constable of Evesham

“We have a lot of older guys who are still here helping out administratively,” DiPaolo added. “Then we have a number of life members (those who have been in the department for 20 years or more) who are in the area but are no longer active.”

Like most volunteer fire departments, recruiting new volunteers is always a priority.

“Depending on the time of day, it can be more difficult than other times. Daytime is usually the most difficult, as most of our members have regular day jobs. But that’s one of the problems volunteer firefighters. I think nationally, volunteer firefighters seem to be on the decline.”

Lenola Volunteer Fire Company celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2022. A big celebration was planned for September 10.

They are proactively trying to tackle this issue by pushing the community pretty hard saying they need members, volunteers.

“Hopefully we can keep going and stay afloat,” he added. “We are doing well so far, but there is still work to be done. My favorite thing, besides of course helping people, is the camaraderie we have at the resort. Ride and hang out with the other members. It really is a real family atmosphere.

A fire truck is presented to Lenola Volunteer Fire Company, which celebrates 100 years of service.

Celeste E. Whittaker is a reporter for the Courier Post, the Daily Journal and the Burlington County Times. The South Jersey native started at CP in 1998 and covered the Philadelphia 76ers, college and high school sports and won numerous awards for her work. Join her by email at cwhittaker@gannettnj.com. Follow her on Twitter at @cp_CWhitaker.

Help support local journalism with a digital subscription.