New Tripoli community launches foundation in honour of fallen firefighters

March 19, 2024
firefighter recruits

In response to the loss of firefighters Zachary Paris and Marvin Gruber during a house fire in New Tripoli over a year ago, the community has established the Northwestern Lehigh Firefighter Foundation.

This newly formed nonprofit aims to support and honour the volunteer firefighters serving the Northwestern Lehigh School District, encompassing New Tripoli, Germansville, Lynnport, and Weisenberg.

Formation of the Northwestern Lehigh Firefighter Foundation

Following the deaths of Paris and Gruber, community members rallied to create the Northwestern Lehigh Firefighter Foundation, which received its nonprofit status in November.

The foundation is dedicated to supporting the local volunteer fire services.

“Never want to forget,” stated New Tripoli Fire Chief Gary Kuntz Jr., expressing the foundation’s commitment to remembering the sacrifices made by firefighters.

Justin Smith, the chair of the foundation, emphasised the importance of acknowledging the role of firefighters who “show up typically on the worst day of your life to help you.”

Supporting volunteer firefighters

The foundation has outlined several initiatives aimed at supporting firefighter training and equipment purchases.

Acknowledging the financial challenges faced by volunteer fire companies, Kuntz highlighted the prohibitive costs of essential certifications for volunteers.

The foundation’s upcoming project, a public firefighter appreciation picnic scheduled for May 4 at Ontelaunee Park in New Tripoli, aims to raise funds and awareness.

This event will feature food trucks, activities for children, and live music, with firefighters and their families enjoying free meals.

Future projects and memorials

Another significant endeavour of the foundation is the development of a memorial at Ontelaunee Park to honour the four fire companies.

The planned memorial, which is expected to cost around $125,000 and be completed this year, will feature a stone wall listing the fire companies and depicting four volunteers in action.

Smith hopes the memorial will inspire future generations to consider firefighting as a noble profession.

Additionally, the foundation is exploring the creation of a family-friendly splash park at Ontelaunee Park, envisioned as a tribute to Paris and Gruber that also provides a joyful community space.

FSJA Comment

By focusing on fundraising, memorials, and community projects, the foundation honors the memory of fallen heroes and addresses the practical needs of volunteer fire services.

The foundation’s efforts to engage with fire companies directly and address challenges like staffing and training costs are commendable.

These initiatives highlight the importance of community support in sustaining volunteer fire departments, which are critical to public safety.

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