Plum fire department celebrates 50 years

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

When Ed Kenna moved to Plum in 1968, he had aspirations of becoming a volunteer firefighter.

“I was from East Liberty, and the chief there was a friend of my dad's,” said Kenna, 71, a General Electric retiree.

After settling in with his family to the Holiday Park neighborhood, Kenna in 1969 decided to join the local fire department that, at the time, had been servicing the young and mostly residential section of the borough for about six years.

The Holiday Park Volunteer Fire Department has been like a second home to Kenna for the past 44 years.

Kenna, who retired from fighting fires when he was 45, still attends meetings and functions at the fire house and plans to attend the department's 50th anniversary open house from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The department was incorporated on Jan. 21, 1963, according to the 50th anniversary program that members received during a banquet on June 1.

Fire Chief Larry Glass said members decided to conduct a public open house in October to kick off National Fire Prevention month. Additionally, the event is intended to celebrate with members of the community.

“The 50th anniversary open house is the opportunity for the fire department to give back to the community and thank them for their support for the last 50 years,” Glass said.

Kenna said the department did not have an actual station when it first was established. Trucks were housed at the Sardis Fire Hall in Murrysville. Glass said when Holiday Park received a fire call, one firefighter would bring the engine to the fire scene, and others went directly to the incident. The department's original fire hall was the annex building that most recently was home to the Nowalk Daily Grind.

A new building with a fire hall and garage for four vehicles was dedicated in 1972, according to the anniversary program. A two-story addition to the building recently was completed.

Kenna said when he moved to the borough, Route 286, now Plum's business district, had just two businesses — a bar and a grocery store.

Kenna said most of the fire calls were in kitchens at homes in Holiday Park.

“The young brides were always causing fires,” Kenna joked.

Kenna said fundraising activities, like today, were essential to the fire department's viability.

Holiday Park's biggest fundraisers today are the weekly bingo, the Lenten fish frys and the annual gun bash.

Decades ago, a carnival/circus in town each year served as a fundraising mechanism for the department, Kenna said.

“It was a good way to make money,” he said.

Kenna said one of the biggest changes in fire service is the level of training that firefighters receive.

“We used to get training from Monroeville (fire departments),” Kenna said.

“Training has quadrupled,” Glass said. “The training has expanded to various classifications. “The goal of every department is to have everyone certified Firefighter 1 (basic training).”

Also, trucks and other firefighting equipment have gotten more sophisticated and expensive.

Glass credited borough officials for the apparatus-replacement fund.

The fund helps the four volunteer fire departments on a rotating basis purchase new trucks. The bulk of the revenue for the fund comes from real-estate taxes.

Kenna said he expects the department to continue to progress.

“I hope to see it grow as much as it has in the last 50 years,” Kenna said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

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