Celebrating community cooperation
TVFD dedicates donated engine, honors former chief
By Abigail Allen
Members of the Tioga Volunteer Fire Department, both past and present, and their families came together Sunday evening for the traditional push-in ceremony for the department’s newest engine.
The 2001 American LaFrance engine, which has a 65-foot ladder on top, was donated by Hugh and Judy McElroy, and it was dedicated in honor of former TVFD Chief Richard Remus.
“For us to add this to our department, it just gets us ready for the expansion and growth that Tioga’s looking forward to in the next five to 10 years,” Chief Richard Hartman said. “It just takes us to a whole different level of response and mutual aid.”
Remus’ widow, Cindy Remus, walked up to the side of the engine and held up a photo of her late husband next to the department’s shield, which he had designed.
“I love what’s happening here,” Cindy said of the department her husband loved. “A lot of new people I don’t know any more. But my husband Richard would be so excited because he drove one of their old, old trucks years ago. … He would love this for sure. I do. I’m just so honored that they’re doing this for him.”
Their daughter, Lisa Henderson, her husband and four of Cindy’s grandchildren, accompanied her for the ceremony.
"He would be so proud,” Henderson said of her father. “It’s just awesome.”
Firefighter Jared Chamberlain said that having the engine will make a big difference for the department as it prepares for the growth coming to Tioga.
“Not only was it an apparatus that was donated to us, but it [also] gives us the ability to go up and over trees, for example, in someone’s front yard,” Chamberlain said, adding that without such a truck, “we’d be waiting a long time for one to get here from Denton.”
After the firefighters pushed the engine into the bay and Hartman called dispatch to put the truck into service, there was a dedication ceremony and a dinner inside the station.
During the dedication, Cindy was given a plaque honoring the efforts her husband put into the department.
The McElroys were also given a plaque in appreciation of their donation to the department about that.
“These guys work hard, and it’s nice we had the fire engine to give,” Judy said.
She mentioned that Hugh once lost a home to a fire which makes him “a little sensitive to that.”
Hugh told the group “we’re extremely honored to be part of the organization, part of the family,” he said.
“We’re very honored to be part of supporting [the TVFD] and providing for its future, particularly as we grow as a community, to build two-story, three-story and various things,” Hugh said. “And this piece of apparatus will actually propel you to do that.”
David Gray, also a Tioga resident, offered his time and talents to create a new logo for the department, which will be used alongside the shield design by Richard Remus.
Gray’s green glowing bulldog in front of the traditional axes used by firefighters was his way of tying the school and the greater Tioga community together, he said.
That new logo was part of the plaque that Gray received from the department in appreciation of his donated artwork.
Gray spoke about the important work that the volunteer fire department does while the members maintain full-time careers outside of the department.
“It’s just crazy that we just take it for granted that you’re there,” Gray said. “A lot of people do. They take it for granted, and they shouldn’t. It’s the only way I could say thank you, and I appreciate everything y’all have done.”
Cindy, the McElroys and Gray were not the only people thanked and recognized during the Sunday evening ceremony.
The firefighters also took the time to thank their families, specifically their wives, for the sacrifices they make to allow the TVFD members to serve their community.
Hartman’s wife, Jennifer, said the men in the department work hard. She also called the donation unbelievable, and she mentioned that the “local departments around here are really excited about it, too.”
“They do a lot for the community,” she said. “It’s a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of thankless hours.”