Firemen’s Association Honors the Past, Looks to the Future

HAZELTON, Pa. – The Six County Firemen's Association held its 116th convention in Hazleton this weekend. Firefighters from Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland, and Schuylkill counties make up the organization.

One of the most poignant moments of the annual tradition is a ceremony honoring those members who died within the last year.

"It is extremely important for us to remember the people who came before us, those who put the path down for us to follow today, and to remember the sacrifices they give," said Gary Perna.

A silver bell is rung in honor of each firefighter lost this year.

"The history of the ringing of the bell is a way that you remember those who have gone on before," said Deanna Force. "It's just something like the playing of taps or bagpipes or 'Amazing Grace.' It's just something you think of when you think of a firefighter memorial service."

While the ceremony is about honoring those fallen firefighters who have gone on before them, it's also about bringing a new generation into the fold.

"My wife and I are both volunteer firefighters. We're both very involved in this association, and we had a great day. We got to bring our godson out with us, and it's just great because he's the next generation that's going to come up and take over for us," Perna added.

"The hope is that we'll get some younger people to come out and to continue this tradition on for the years to come," Force said.

Next year, the convention will be held in a different location among one of the six counties.

The hope is that the next generation will carry the torch to keep the tradition alive.

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