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Youngwood VFD welcomes community to open house

| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Marilyn Forbes | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Hot rod is up for grabs in Youngwood Todd Turriziani, a lifetime member of the Youngwood Volunteer Fire Department, stands near a Ford Mustang that is being raffled off by the department as a fundraiser recently. Tickets can be purchased from any department fireman or at the Youngwood Corner Market, where the vehicle will be parked. Photo taken Saturday, June 15, 2013 Photo taken Saturday, June 15, 2013
Marilyn Forbes | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Brook Steiner, 11, of Youngwood pets Allie, the smallest canine member of the Youngwood Borough Volunteer Fire Department's search-and-rescue team. The dog is owned and handled by team volunteer Monica Galley.
Marilyn Forbes | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Youngwood Borough volunteer firemen work to extinguish a truck fire during a demonstration at the department's recently held open house.
Marilyn Forbes | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Youngwood volunteer fireman Jeff Wentzel takes his wife, Judi, and their grandchildren, Urijah Wentzel and Nevaeh Wentzel of Grapeville, for a ride on the department's tower truck at the department's open house on June 15, 2013.

Members of the Youngwood community learned first-hand how and when firemen work at the recent open house held at the Youngwood Borough Volunteer Fire Department.

“This is our chance to show people what we do here,” said Lloyd Crago, the department's chief.

The last time that the department hosted a similar event was more than 20 years ago, he said.

“The people in the town don't know what we do here or what we have here,” he said.

Informational display booths were set up throughout the department's grounds to educate visitors.

Firemen performed demonstrations such as extinguishing a vehicle fire and a mock extrication drill involving a vehicle damaged during a collision.

Attendees were also given rides on the department's tower truck. They were told how and when the vehicle's equipment is used during fire calls.

In addition, the department's search-and-rescue team, which numbers total 11 dogs and handlers, also conducted a demonstration.

“Our search-and-rescue team has been with us about a year, and they are a big asset,” Crago said.

Hearing screening and blood pressure monitoring was also made available to visitors, and the Westmoreland County Courthouse Reality Tour performed a puppet show.

The event's main focus was not only to highlight the department and its function, but also to recruit new members for all areas of the department, which need help to continue operating.

“There is not just one person here who keeps this department going,” said John Storey Jr., the department's engine captain.

Those who work as volunteers at functions, in the ladies auxiliary or as a member of the department's administration all play key roles in the fire company's success, he said.

“Each volunteer is important to the department,” Storey said.

Crago said they will find something to do for anyone who wants to be a part of the department.

“If you don't like heights, then you don't have to be in the tower truck,” Crago said. “We have the search-and-rescue team now but if you don't like dogs, we'll find you something. There is something here for everyone.”

Several dozen people passed through the doors of the department throughout the day enjoying the demonstrations and displays.

“I think that this was a wonderful idea,” Youngwood Borough Mayor Joan Derco said. “It's a great way for the people of our community to see what is going on.”

A few people did signed to become volunteers with the department, so, Storey said he considers the event a success.

“I'm happy,” Storey said. “I said I wanted to get a few people interested, and we did.”

Crago added that he is also pleased to see a growing interest in the department.

“We are like a family here,” Crago said. “We have a lot of fun. We have a softball team, and we have a golf outing. We have a lot of fun, but it's also very rewarding at times.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.