By Karen Blackledge
The Danville News
Deanna Force became a firefighter because she enjoys helping people.
She is only the second woman in the 110-year history of the Six-County Firemen’s Association to have served as association president and she recently completed two one-year terms as head of the organization.
Force was elected during the association convention in Danville in 2011 and served as president in the voluntary position through June 28. She’s now fourth vice president and will continue through the vice president ranks in the organization, which represents several hundred fire companies in Montour, Columbia, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.
Under her leadership, the association started a junior firefighters program and established a scholarship in memory of vice president Mark Coons of Lackawanna County. The scholarship is awarded to a high school student wanting to further his or her education in fire service, she said.
Force said the association conducts fire company business and keeps abreast of legislation affecting fire departments. The association meets every other month and holds a convention once a year. The meetings and conventions are held at various locations throughout the six counties.
“We are working constantly to bring in new members. We want to try to attract younger firefighters,” she said. Anyone wanting to join the six-county association can contact her at email@example.com.
The location for the 2014 convention will be decided at the group’s July 21 meeting.
Danville has already committed to hosting the convention in 2016. The 2011 convention in Danville drew about 40 people to meetings, nearly 200 to a banquet and hundreds to a parade and public party at the Washies.
As president, Force also attended state firemen’s conventions in Hanover Township and near Philadelphia. She plans to go to this year’s state convention at West Chester.
Force decided to join the Danville Fire Department in 2004 after covering a fire while Mark Fry was serving as fire chief of the Goodwill Hose Company.
She joined the Washies Fire Company and then joined the Southside Fire Company of Riverside in 2005. She transferred to Goodwill in 2009 where she serves as vice president.
She serves as public information officer and photographer for the Danville Fire Department and also serves on the fire board, firemen’s relief board and on the fire prevention committee which will again hold a free summer safety camp for kids. The camp will be Aug. 14-16 at the former Danville Elementary School.
Force got involved with the six-county association while representing the Washies at a convention about 2007 or 2008. “Dick Blosky and Jack Reilly said they were looking for a new vice president from Montour County. They elected me and the rest is history,” she said.
Force has undergone training which includes the essentials of firefighting, vehicle rescue, CPR, first aid and hazardous materials courses and takes refresher classes every year. She enrolls in special classes at the conventions.
“I wanted to do something to help and this is my way of giving back to the community and my way of serving. It may be by simply holding someone’s hand, listening or helping with their pets,” she said.
She serves as music director and works in news at Radio Station WPGM of Danville.
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