All posts by Jeffrey Tischer

Flickering Embers from the Past: Naming Siegrist Road

Years ago there was only a field lane in the area of Siegrist Road. A better road was needed so Glen Siegrist’s grandfather donated the ground from his farms for a new road. An old atlas shows that it did not follow exactly the path of the original lane, but was laid out to serve the residents who lived on the nearby farms.

When East Lampeter Township decided to name their roads, they asked Glen’s grandfather if they could use the family’s name for the road since they lived in the area and he had donated the land. The Siegrist family members have always had a strong presence along the road so the name is appropriate. Glen says, “My parents lived there and I was born and raised there and that’s where I expect to stay!”

Flickering Embers from the Past: Daily Visits to the Firehouse

A coal stove heated the original Firehouse across from the present station. In order to keep the stove fired up during the winter months, someone had to tend to it on a daily basis. This chore fell to the town mailman, Vince Miller, since he passed by every day while on his mail route. Ironically he lived where the present post office is located, so he was not far away.

Dave Haldeman remembers, “Vince would go past while on his route so he visited the firehouse every day. We depended on him. He acted as the spokesperson. When it was time for a new chief, he is the guy who said, ‘Here, this is yours. You’re chief!’”

According to Dan Fisher, anyone who knew Vince never forgot him. He was quite a character who, along with the Brubaker brothers from the Duck Farm, helped keep the Fire Company alive when it was waning. They revived interest and support among community members by planning the first annual Turkey Dinner. Always doing his part, Vince Miller saved the Fire Company by cooking the turkeys for the meal.

Positions within the Fire Company

Fire Police Officers Glen Siegrist, Jim Herr, Les Fazekas, Norm Decker. Not pictured: Carl Kauffman, Lance Watt, Anthony Danner, Butch Berry

Joining hands to do the best job possible 

Fire Police Officers are an integral part of the Fire Company and respond every time there is an emergency call. One of their main functions is to ensure the safety of firefighters and protect their vehicles and equipment at the scene of an incident.

They also protect residents, spectators, and media personnel from being harmed; set up a yellow tape security perimeter around the incident to keep them from interfering with the work of the firefighters; and safely direct motorists around the scene.

When their pagers go off, the Fire Police Officers drive their personal vehicles directly to the scene. After arrival, the first thing the Fire Police Captain does is to assess the magnitude of the incident. He then works closely with the Fire Chief to determine how far back onlookers must stay, which roads need to be closed, and what alternative routes and detours can be set up. Using his radio he assigns the Fire Police Officers to direct traffic at key locations.

In their personal vehicles Fire Police Officers carry flares and at least three traffic cones, enough to close down a road until more equipment is available. The Fire Company squad truck carries the Detour, Road Closed, and Incident Ahead signs as well as barricades and cones. Firefighters make the rounds to set out and then gather up the signs.

Safety gear for the Fire Police Officers includes high-visibility lime jackets and pants. Three essentials they must have while on duty are an official hat or helmet, a metal badge, and a flashlight with a red cone. High-visibility safety vests are also a standard requirement.

After the Fire Company brings new Fire Police Officers on board, they go before a local judge or the township supervisors. Classes that lead to certification are offered at the Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center in Manheim. The classes cover traffic control, the proper use of PennDot required traffic control devices, PA State Traffic Laws, and public relations training to enable the Fire Police Officer to better relate to civilians at any given incident. Personal appearance and grooming is a major part of the training.

In addition to fires and accidents, Fire Police Officers protect the community during weather-related emergencies, such as road closings due to flooding or downed wires and trees. They are also called upon to direct traffic during large community events such as the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon and Lancaster County Carriage & Antique Auction.

Present Fire Police Captain Norm Decker says, “The reward for us is knowing that we are doing our part to keep things orderly and safe during an emergency. It’s great to know we are offering protection and possibly saving lives.”
Fire Police Captain Norm Decker and Fire Police Officer Les Fazekas contributed to this article.

Join Us for Town Cleanup!

IMG_8185Saturday, May 6, 2017


Meet @ Fire Hall

Town Cleanup Day was started as one local Boy Scout’s project with a few community people helping him. The first year three dump truck loads were hauled away because, except for six inches at the edge, the sidewalks were covered with grass and weeds. The cleanup was a big part of the preparation for the 250th Anniversary of Bird-in-Hand in 1984. Under Dan Fisher’s leadership, the Fire Company assumed responsibility for coordinating this task in 1985.

The starting place is at the Fire Hall and the crews work their way through town to Maple Avenue. They make sure the railroad underpass, stairways, and sidewalks are clean for another year and enjoy coffee and doughnuts at the Fire Hall when they are finished.

Volunteer Opportunities: Event Closer / Dinner Help

Event Closer

Time Commitment: 6:00pm-8:30pm on the Monday after an event

Details:  Even after event day cleanup, there’s always some odds & ends such as laundry, dishwasher wrap-up, organizing supplies, etc.

Contact: Eli Esh 717-656-9147

Dinner Help: Ages 12 – 102!

Time Commitment: 4-6 hours per event

Time Commitment: 4-6 hours per event
Details: There are many roles available including serving, bussing tables, dishwashing, food prep, setup/cleanup, greeting guests, and answering phones during an event. If you can help at just one event, we’d love to have you!

If interested in volunteering at a dinner, please call the Fire Hall 717-392-0112 &  leave  a message with your contact info.  Someone will call you back! 

Fall 2016 Firefighting Photos

Firefighter Andrew Beiler raises a ladder at an acquired structure training.
Firefighter Andrew Beiler raises a ladder at an acquired structure training.
Many thanks to the Jonas King family for allowing Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse Fire Companies to train on your vacant house!
Many thanks to the Jonas King family for allowing Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse Fire Companies to train on your vacant house!
Engine 41-1 crew advances a handline at an acquired structure training.
Engine 41-1 crew advances a handline at an acquired structure training.
Crews prepare to make entry at a training at Pequea Lane Training Facility.
Crews prepare to make entry at a training
at Pequea Lane Training Facility.

Sponsor Spotlight: Ettline Foods is the Sponsor of the Pasta Dinner


Ettline Foods Corporation is a foodservice distributor serving businesses in six states with its headquarters in York, Pennsylvania. The company has been in existence for 127 years since its beginning as a grocery store in 1889. The biggest advantage to doing business with Ettline today is that it is an independent, employee-owned company where each individual cares about how the product is bought, stored, and delivered.

One of Ettline’s goals is to actively participate in community affairs. The company prioritizes the large number of charitable requests they receive in these ways…

  1. The charitable organization is near and dear to an Ettline employee
  2. The charitable organization is supported by one of Ettline’s customers

After the addition of Bird-in-Hand Restaurant’s smorgasbord in 2005, they began a relationship with Ettline and became a major customer. Because the Restaurant is a loyal customer and a major supporter of the Bird-in-Hand Fire Company, Ettline also has a special interest making contributions to the Half Marathon event. They are the sponsor of the Fire Company’s Friday evening Pasta Dinner and provide the refueling foods for the runners at the 5K and Half Marathon finish lines.

Restaurant Operations Manager Darryl Hassler says, “Ettline has been donating food since we started the Pasta Dinner back in 2010 when we served several hundred people. Now we serve 1,200. The portion they contribute is huge and includes sauce, meatballs, cheeses, salad mix, and bread sticks. Plus, they donate ALL of the chips, bananas, apples, granola bars, and bagels at the 5K and Half Marathon finish lines. This year they will be providing a truck for storage. Paul Grim, Ettline’s sales rep, really steps up as the food is ordered and delivered.”

Joe Ayoub, President and CEO of Ettline, and his wife were present at last year’s Pasta Dinner and were impressed that so many runners from faraway states come to our Fire Company event. He loved the community feeling and the fact that the dinner is a lot of fun for the runners, their families and friends, and the local residents.

Joe explains his company’s involvement with the Bird-in-Hand Fire Company. “The success of our company depends on the success of businesses in the community. They support us so we know the right thing to do is to support organizations that are important to them. We take great joy and pride in giving back to the community.”

Thank you to the Bird-in-Hand Restaurant Staff for preparing the Pasta Dinner. Special thanks to the 2016 leadership team of Mark Crisotomo, Darryl Hassler, Sylvia Smucker, and Sally Stoltzfus!
Thank you to the Bird-in-Hand Restaurant Staff for preparing the Pasta Dinner. Special thanks to the 2016 leadership team of Mark Crisotomo, Darryl Hassler, Sylvia Smucker, and Sally Stoltzfus!

BIHFC Purchases New Air Packs

Bird-in-Hand Fire Company purchased 18 new self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) at the beginning of 2016. These new air packs replace the ones that had been in use since 1999.

The back of every seat on the firefighting apparatus contains an air pack that the firefighters slip into as they head to a fire. The packs fit like a backpack. Both the backpack and the face mask in the new models are more comfortable with better padding and weight distribution.

With the air cylinder on his back, a firefighter uses the mask anytime he enters a burning building or encounters a hazmat situation, excessive smoke, and toxic fumes. The new air packs have a heads up display (HUD) in the mask that shows the amount of air left in the air cylinder. Plus the special connection on the back is universal across all brands and can be used by any Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) to resupply air when a firefighter is in trouble.

Chief Lonnie Kauffman says, “Another advantage of the new air packs is their true 30-minute cylinders. With the old packs a fire fighter had only 15-20 minutes of breathing air in the cylinder.”

Bird-in-Hand received a grant in the amount of $48,735 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through their Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG). The total price for the air packs was $122,000.

Junior Firefighter Arlan Miller checks a gauge on his new air pack. The cylinders are industry standard with 4500 psi.
Junior Firefighter Arlan Miller checks a gauge on his new air pack. The cylinders are industry standard with 4500 psi.

Positions within the Fire Company: Engineers / Drivers

The following article continues a series detailing various positions that our firefighters fill.  From basic skills to top management, all roles are vitally important in making our Fire Company function well.  We hope these articles help community members better understand how we function as a team using everyone’s strengths within a chain of command.

Joining hands to do the best job possible 

At Bird-in-Hand there is a pool of twenty Fire Company Members who drive the vehicles to the scene of an emergency. Many of these engineers are trained and experienced at driving all four apparatus: tanker, pumper, and two squad trucks.

The first responsibility of the engineer is to drive safely to the emergency. Driving defensively means always being aware of how the public responds to the apparatus with its flashing lights and sirens. In the forefront is the thought, “What is that other driver going to do?” Engineers make sure an intersection is clear before proceeding through a red light. The speed limit may be exceeded under normal and safe conditions.

At the emergency scene the engineer stays with his apparatus. He needs to thoroughly know the location and function of all of the firefighting equipment on his vehicle. That way he can help the firefighters secure the equipment they need as they exit the truck.

The engineer who drives the Pierce Lance Pumper is the person who operates the pump. There are sequential steps to manning the pump and with hours of training and practice, they become almost instinctive to the engineer. Operating the pump requires a specific skill set and the ability to work quickly. Experience also makes it possible to detect trouble or changes by listening to the various sounds that the pump makes.

After the apparatus returns to the station, the engineer has a check list that he follows to prepare the truck for its next call. If the truck needs to be washed, he enlists helpers. He makes sure that the driver’s seat is properly positioned, the radio is set on the correct channel, and all of the truck systems are reset. Also important is checking the fuel gauge; the tank must always be at least three quarters full.

At Bird-in-Hand a member has to be 21 years or older to begin training as an engineer. The first drives are around the parking lot of the Fire Station to get the feel of how to maneuver the apparatus. Then there are many hours of practice runs on the road and additional hours of operating the pump. Only then is the new engineer ready to drive the apparatus to an emergency.