Lansdale son Jay Daveler, who served 44 years as chief at and continues to serve as fire marshal, is being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at Founders Day.
Daveler found out about his award during a routine management meeting with borough Manager Timi Kirchner and Director of Community Development John Ernst over a cup of coffee at a local eatery.
"I was given the assignment and I was thrilled to tell him," Kirchner said. "We had several things to discuss, as he's still the fire marshal. As we went through our business, I said, 'There's one more thing.' He looked at me and said, 'I don't do this very well. It shouldn't be me.' I said, 'Yes, it should.' We went through the reasons why we named him. He was deeply humbled and very touched. You could tell he was deeply moved."
Founders Day Committee member Councilwoman Mary Fuller made the anticipatory announcement at Wednesday night's borough council meeting. She, and other council members, said Daveler was "very deserving" of the award.
"After 140 years of borough incorporation, Discover Lansdale and the Founders Day Committee thought it was about time that we begin to acknowledge those who have dedicated much of their lives to the betterment of this community," Fuller said. "This year we have decided that we will now institute a Lansdale Lifetime Achievement Award."
Fuller said Daveler is aware of the award, and the borough has invited his family and his colleagues from area fire companies to attend the presentation. Daveler will be awarded during the opening ceremonies of Founders Day.
Founders Day Opening ceremonies will be at Railroad Plaza at 10:15 a.m.
"I would like to ask everyone to honor our longtime resident and businessman for his commitment to the betterment of Lansdale Borough and recognize his countless hours of volunteerism, making a positive impact on our community and the surrounding region," Fuller said.
Daveler will be awarded with a plaque to take home. A plaque will be placed in Lansdale Borough Hall as well commemorating Daveler's dedication.
"As years go by, we will add to it every Founders Day year," Fuller said.
Fuller said there were several other names that the committees strongly considered for the award.
"I'm glad we can get to do this every year," Fuller said. "Certainly, there are others in our community that have spent a lifetime improving Lansdale, but Jay has done it all."
Founders Day Committee member and Lansdale Historical Society President Dick Shearer was instrumental in recommending most of the names, Kirchner said. She said Daveler's name was right at the top when considering many candidates for the inaugural award.
"His contributions have been so exceptional over the years," Kirchner said.
Since Founders Day is now going to be an annual event, Kirchner is expecting the public to come forth and nominate various individuals for future considerations.
Fuller confirmed there were other people in the mix, but they will be kept in mind for the future. She too said public input and nominations will be something new moving forward.
"We felt (Daveler) exemplified the North Penn community and contributions to Lansdale," Fuller said. "He spent his whole life doing just that, between fire chief, fire marshal, business owner and resident."
Daveler, a Lansdale High School graduate, joined the fire company in Feburary 1957, according to North Penn Life. Daveler was elected chief in January 1967; he served as a volunteer and assistant chief prior to his election.
On Jan. 1, 2011, Daveler resigned as chief of Fairmount.
Daveler has seen many fires in his history with the fire company, and was asked about his most memorable experience at that Jan. 20 meeting.
While the destruction of Lans-Bowl, the and the East Fourth Street rowhome fire are recent disasters that stick out in the mind, the worst fire Daveler has seen was the Allied Paint fire.
On Nov. 24, 1974, at 11:35 a.m., Allied Paint, located on West Third Street, went up in flames.
The company used two warehouses to store paint thinners, aerosol cans and other flammable liquids, according to the Fairmount Fire Co. website.
By the time the first engine arrived on scene, the fire was completely involved. The fire was so intense that it caused roof fires on West Second Street and Valley Forge Road.
Aerosol cans and 55-gallon drums flew through the air and landed as far as a block-and-a-half away, according to the Web site.
Two Fairmount trucks were damaged, with one pumper requiring repainting. Overall property damage was estimated at $350,000.
Eight fire companies totaling more than 100 firefighters responded to the inferno. The fire was brought under control by 12:45 p.m. and evacuated residents returned to their homes by 5 p.m.
With so much experience and so many fires, it was hard for Daveler to pick one memorable time with the company.
"All my friends are firemen and fire-oriented," he said . "The camaraderie with the members in the company has been a big, big part of my life."