HomePalmyra News'We are always looking for new volunteers'

‘We are always looking for new volunteers’

Independence Fire Company has been serving Palmyra since 1887

Albert J. Countryman Jr./The Sun
After setting up some 110 vendor tables at Charles Street School on Feb. 10 for the 26th annual Fisherman’s Flea Market, volunteers gathered at the Palmyra Independence Fire Company.

When a fast-spreading fire destroyed four homes at Fifth Street and Cinnaminson Avenue in Palmyra on a Sunday morning in May 1887, people in the small villages of the borough and Riverton decided to be ready for future blazes.

“The fire brought to the attention of the people of both towns the need for fire protection and water facilities,” notes the Independence Fire Company’s website. “The Riverton & Palmyra Water Company was shortly afterwards incorporated. Talk of a fire company for the villages finally culminated in a meeting at Fire Company George W. Hall’s pool room on Broad Street, west of Race Street, in August of 1887, and the Independence Hook and Ladder Company there became a fact.”

- Advertisement -

For the past 137 years, dedicated volunteer firefighters have protected the lives and property of residents, and the Independence Fire Company at 115 W. Broad St. in Palmyra is looking for young adults who want to serve the community for the next 137 years.

“We are always looking for new volunteers,” said President John Miller as he set up the annual Fisherman’s Flea Market he and Capt. John Skowronski started 26 years ago as a fundraiser.

They were helped by 18 volunteers who set up 110 vendor tables in the gymnasium and throughout the halls of Charles Street School the day before the big event on Sunday, Feb. 11.

“The first two years, we held it at the firehouse, but it continued to grow. When we reached 40 vendors, we moved it to the Charles Street School,” recalled Miller, adding that the flea market planners were expecting up to 1,200 people to browse through the new and used equipment for both fresh and saltwater fishing.

Unique items included antique fishing lures, specialty rods and reels and wading gear for lakes and the shore.

“It is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year, along with the golf outing and bingo,” Miller said, noting that the fire company’s Ladies Auxiliary made hoagies for the event.

Skowronski enjoys fishing for fresh water bass and pickerel in New Jersey and in the Poconos, while Miller likes catching striped bass in late March and early April when they travel up the Delaware River from the Atlantic Ocean as far as Trenton to spawn.

They both related the story about how the flea market started.

Before 1998, the fire company organized markets at the firehouse, and one of the vendors was Luke Madilski of Riverside, who suggested a fisherman’s flea market. Miller and Skowronski took him up on the idea, and the event continues to be a success every year.

“Sadly, Mr. Madilski passed away 10 years ago,” Miller said, adding tat the company presented his wife with a plaque for all his help during the flea market that year.

For Skowronski, one of the highlights of the event over the years includes a blizzard that hit the Delaware Valley in 2010, leaving 29 inches of snow on the ground.

“We still held the Fisherman’s Flea Market,” he related. “Quite a few volunteers were plowing the streets and the school parking lot, and people showed up.”

Skowronski and Miller – co-chairs of the flea market – will start planning next year’s event in October. They praised the efforts of people who helped them get everything ready this year.

The Independence Fire Company is still an all-volunteer department with members coming from all walks of life. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter can call (856) 829-0020, go to www.palmyrafire.org, or simply stop the by firehouse on a Monday night.


Stay Connected

- Advertisment -

Current Issue