Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire Company is celebrating their 80th year serving the community. Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire Company was created to address the need for fire protection in the neighborhoods of Inverness and Rosewald Beach. Founded in 1942 during WWII when there was a concern that an attack on Bethlehem Steel from enemy forces could lead to fires and pandemonium in the surrounding neighborhoods.  “In 80 years a lot has changed and in some aspects nothing’s changed.” Bob Frances, Wise Avenue’s public information officer, said. “We went from a single, trailer-mounted civil-defense pump to the complex fire apparatus and ambulance, we have today. Equipment’s changed, but the commitment hasn’t.”

Over the years the changing mission of the fire service has shifted to include Emergency Medical Service (EMS) responses.  All Wise Avenue Volunteer firefighters must be Firefighter 1 certified, which includes EMS training.  “There are fewer fires due to code enforcement and fire prevention and education efforts, but we have an aging population that needs care and the opioid epidemic have shifted the needs of the community,” Bob said. He estimates over 85% of their calls are now medical responses.  In the late 1990’s the company got their first ambulance to better serve the community.  Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire Company is always looking for volunteers to assist with their various activities, not just putting out fires—though that is something folks can volunteer for. They have members and nonmembers who help with the annual Train Garden as well as manage logistics, like the rental of their social hall.  “Toughest step is making the decision to join,” Bob said. “If you got the guts to do it, we’ll give you the training.”