When the 114th Six-County Firemen’s Convention is held in Jermyn in Lackawanna County this year, it will historic and fulfill a dream. This year’s convention will be hosted by the Crystal Fire Company No. 1 of Jermyn on June 22-24.
The company is holding the convention, which will be held in Lackawanna County for the first time in almost fifty years, to honor one of their own.
Mark Coons was a member and past Vice-President of the Crystal Fire Company.
He was also a Past President of the Six-County Firemen’s Association as well as a member of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Volunteer Firemen’s Federation.
Mark’s dream was to bring a firemen’s convention to his hometown of Jermyn.
Unfortunately, he never saw that dream come true as Mark died in 2011. After Mark’s death, his brother and sister firefighters started to plan to fulfill his dream of bringing a convention home.
Mark also loved history as he was the fire company’s historian, as well as Past President and member of the Jermyn Historical Society. Mark also wrote for the Scranton Times newspaper in the Sports Department.
When Mark passed away, he was finishing work on a history project on local sports for the newspaper. In his free time, he documented the histories of the fire companies in Jermyn, as well as those throughout Lackawanna and surrounding counties, and was looking forward to getting back to his research, as he would put it, the work that he loved.
That is one reason why this year’s convention will be even more special. In the Six-County Association’s 114 years, only three other Lackawanna County communities have ever hosted the convention and there hasn’t been one in Lackawanna County since 1971.
The Six-County Firemen’s Association was organized in the winter of 1903-04 in Hazleton, PA. At that time, the Hazleton Firemen’s Relief Association reached out to fire companies throughout Lackawanna, Luzerne, Columbia and Schuylkill Counties. The plan was to unite the companies into one organization that would have a greater say in Pennsylvania’s Fire Association. Up until then, the “Big City” fire departments had all of the control.
The first convention took place June 2-4, 1904 and was hosted by the Diamond Fire Company #2 of Hazleton and the group took the name, “Four County Firemen’s Association”. At the 1906 convention in Bloomsburg, Montour and Northumberland Counties were admitted and the name was changed to the “Six-County Firemen’s Association.”
At the 23rd Convention held in Shamokin in 1926, a Ladies Auxiliary was formed as a part of the organization.
Two Lackawanna County members figure prominently with the organization to this day. An annual award presented to individuals and organizations in the field of fire prevention is named for Past President Walter Sawchak of Olyphant.
In 2014, the Association began the Mark Coons Scholarship Fund, awarded to those seeking higher education, in honor of Mark.
In the Six-County’s 114-year history, seven Lackawanna County firefighters led the organization as President. Victor Burschel of Dunmore is credited with being the man who started the Dunmore Fire Department. He headed the group in 1912 and 1921.
Thomas Campbell, who was a fire chief for sixteen years in Carbondale, was President in 1924.
Charles E. Wilson, a member of Dunmore’s Independent Hose Company, held the office in 1931.
Edmund Lewis who was the Superintendent of the Scranton Fire Department for two separate terms held was President in 1938.
H. Sylvester Davies, a longtime member of Wilson Hose Company of Peckville held the office in 1971. Longtime member of the Olyphant Fire Department, Walter Sawchak, was President in 1978.
Mark Coons was the last person from Lackawanna County to be the Association’s President in 2001.
This year will see only the fourth Lackawanna County community to ever host the firemen’s convention. Dunmore held the convention in 1912, 1921 and 1928. Carbondale hosted in 1915, 1933 and 1958.
The last time the convention was held in Lackawanna County was 1971 when the Wilson Hose Company of Peckville hosted it. Each time, the convention brought large amounts of firemen and visitors to the area.
This year’s convention should see not only fire companies from the Association’s members, but also companies from all over northeastern Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey. A number of New Jersey companies have become fixtures at the annual conventions.
This year’s convention will open on Thursday, June 22nd with a delegate dinner at Saint John’s Hall in neighboring Mayfield. On Friday, delegate meetings will be held at the William Walker Hose Company in Mayfield while the annual memorial service will take place at the First United Methodist Church in Jermyn.
Friday night will feature a convention mug night on the grounds of Artisan Hose Company in Jermyn.
There will be food, beverages and entertainment from 5 p.m. until midnight.
A huge basket raffle will take place in the Artisan Hose Company hall with proceeds benefiting the Mark Coons Scholarship Fund.
Saturday’s big event will be the annual parade. Vehicle registration will take place the William Walker Company in Mayfield with judging afterward.
The parade will begin at 2 p.m. and travel from Mayfield through Jermyn, ending at the picnic grounds on Maple Street.
Food, beverages and entertainment will be available until midnight and awards will be presented around 5 p.m. Almost one hundred awards will be presented to Six-County Association members, Non Six-County attendees, In and Out of County awards, awards presented by the Jermyn Fire Companies, as well as the Mark Coons Memorial Award, honoring the Best Appearing Overall Company.
The Crystal Fire Company No. 1 is one of the oldest in Lackawanna County, being organized in 1885. They are being joined in this endeavor by the Artisan Hose Company of Jermyn as well as the William Walker Hose Company of Mayfield.
The last time a firemen’s convention was held in Jermyn was in 1969 when they hosted the Northeastern Pennsylvania Volunteer Firemen’s Convention.
That organization also held conventions in Jermyn in 1931 and 1965.
All attendees are welcome. Information will be continually updated on the fire company website at www.58fire.com, the Crystal Fire Co. #1 and Jermyn/Mayfield 6 County Convention Facebook pages.
For more information, contact: Jim Allan, Crystal Fire Company No. 1 (570) 906-9266.