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Crabtree VFD marks 75 years of service

| Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, 7:47 p.m.
The vehicle fleet is not the only thing that has changed during the 75-year history of the Crabtree Volunteer Fire Department. Members became highly trained in various rescue specialties as evolving technologies and a more vigilant public whittled down the number of fires.

The Crabtree Volunteer Fire Department is celebrating 75 years of service with a variety of activities this weekend.

Events include a first-ever firemen's banquet on Friday, complete with a disc jockey, dancing and karaoke.

An open house will be held for the public 1-5 p.m. on Saturday at the fire house with equipment tours, interactive demonstrations, fire prevention tactics, children's activities and the police K9 unit featured throughout the day.

On Sunday, a memorial Mass will be held at St. Bartholomew Parish at 10:30 a.m. A car cruise to wrap up the weekend will begin at 1 p.m.

“Occasionally we do open houses, but all of this is to commemorate the anniversary,” said Fire Chief Bill Watkins, 40, who joined the department when he was 13 years old. “This is for everybody's dedication in serving the community for the past 75 and to recognize the accomplishments and members who put in the time to put us where we are.”

The department has 20 active members and 50 life members.

It runs approximately 300 calls a year.

Watkins hopes the community will support the department and learn it does a whole lot more than just fighting fires.

Even since the 50th celebration, Watkins said, there have been many changes.

Today, the department responds to a significant number of rescue calls, including vehicle accidents, trench rescues, water rescues and high-angle rescues.

At the same time, fire alarm system and medical-related calls have increased.

For Watkins, technology has played a major role in some of the changes.

“People are a lot safer in their homes,” he said.

Another change since the department began is more stringent training requirements than yesteryear.

Today, in comparison to even 20 years ago, training sessions are held year-round.

Members are certified through the Pennsylvania Fire Academy and the Department of Health, as well as national certifications the department holds in several different disciplines.

“We put a lot of time into our training, which is something I am very proud of,” Watkins said.

When Watkins was a teenager, everybody joined the fire department, he said.

He knew he was in it for the long haul because it's all about “helping out,” he said.

For more information on the Crabtree Volunteer Fire Department 75th Anniversary Celebration visit

Michele Stewardson is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.