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HAZLETON — All good things come with time and patience. That is the philosophy Hazleton Fire Chief Arne Dettbarn follows, not only in his personal life, but also as 25 years at the helm of fire and rescue services for the town of Hazleton.

The ever-smiling fire chief’s grin got a little bigger as he announced the fire department was able to upgrade some pretty worn out vehicles and equipment recently.

“Thanks to a U.S.D.A. grant and a generous donation from Ruth Love, the fire department was able to purchase a newer pumper to replace our old 1995 model, and purchase a newer equipment truck to replace our 1974 truck,” Chief Dettbarn said. Both the vehicles officially went into service Oct. 7. “No more silver bread truck,” he and his wife Julie said simultaneously, referring to the department’s unmistakable silver rig that served many years as the equipment truck, carrying necessary gear to every emergency.

Dettbarn said they were also able to purchase six new air packs with six extra air tanks to replace the department’s outdated air packs and tanks.

The chief conveyed more good news for the department and the citizens that benefit from having a well-equipped and trained fire department. Dettbarn said an anonymous source donated a John Deere Gator to the department.

“Thanks to the Buchanan County Community Foundation, we were approved for a matching grant to buy a pump, motor, hose, hose reel, lights, nozzles, etc., to build a firefighting gator. We also purchased a trailer on which to haul it,” Dettbarn said. Oelwein Signs and More painted over the green chassis with fiery flames, giving the gator a one-of-a-kind paint job.

“The gator has proven to be a valuable tool for grass fires, set-aside burns, and mutual aid calls,” Dettbarn said.

“We are very fortunate to be able to draw upon grants, along with generous donations from private citizens, and proceeds from fundraisers to support this fire department,” the chief said.

Dettbarn said there are currently 17 members on the fire department. They meet at 6:30 p.m. the first Thursday each month at the fire station. He said anyone interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter can stop in and fill out an application. Applicants go through a monthlong investigation process before they are given a six-month probationary period. If they get through their probationary time satisfactorily, the membership votes whether to bring them into the department permanently or thank them for their time.

“There’s a lot of trust involved in being a firefighter, so there is a process to go through to get there, too,” Dettbarn explained.

He said the past 18 months has been tough for fundraisers with the pandemic causing cancellation of some events. He is hoping they can put together a soup supper in the near future, since they have always been successful in the past. He said details will be announced a little later if they get something organized.

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