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Hose company celebrates 150 years

The company says the members' dedication is what keeps this volunteer fire company afloat.

TUNKHANNOCK, Pa. — The Triton Hose Company has been in operation for 150 years. 

Jim Welch has been a member for nearly half of that time. Welch joined the volunteer fire company in Tunkhannock when he was 18. He's now the oldest current member at 91 years old. 

"Somebody's gotta do it, and as long as you're gonna do it, you might as well do it right," said Welch.

In a time when so many volunteer companies are struggling to stay afloat in Pennsylvania, it's the lifelong commitment of volunteers like Welch that has kept this fire company going strong for a century and a half.

"The community and the membership. They are 100% the reason for our success," said Chief Eric Kukuchka.

Eric Kukuchka is the current chief at Triton Hose Co. Welch was the chief for 29 years and the president for another 25. 

The history and traditions of the Triton Hose Company are certainly kept alive at the firehouse, the past, and present chiefs showed Newswatch 16 memorabilia such as membership applications dating back to 1929.

Memorabilia included bugles used to give orders to the firemen in the 1800s and old newspaper articles detailing some of the bigger blazes the volunteers have battled over the years. 

Welch recalled a fire on New Years Day in 1980.

"Yup, I was playing New Year's Eve, I was playing at Shadowbrook with my band, and the call came in. I told the guys, 'you gotta finish, I got a bad fire,'" said Welch.

While the equipment may have changed over the past 150 years, the members' dedication has not.

"It's hard to get volunteers, and some companies have had to close because of it. So we're very fortunate, and these guys are doing a good job," said Welch.

"We've been very fortunate over the past couple of years. Some members whose lives just were too busy years ago to help out, now they're coming back and helping us out as drivers; you're getting children of members that are starting to show interest in joining the fire company," said Kukucha.

A fire company with a roster that reads more like a family tree is hopeful that the next 150 years will be just as successful as the last. 

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