Category Archives: Firefighting

Firefighting

2016 Firefighter of the Year

PatchChristian Stoltzfus, Jr. joined the Fire Company as a Junior Firefighter when he was 17 years old. He is the fifth son in a lineup of nine boys in his family. All of his older brothers had become firefighters before him so it was natural for him to join too.

In addition to responding to fires, Junior has served as a lieutenant and a captain. Presently he is Captain 2. His specific assignment for the past seven years has been to manage the personal protective equipment for the Fire Company. This includes outfitting new firefighters in their firefighting gear, keeping track of inventory stored in the basement, and making sure every firefighter’s gear is in good repair and up-to-date.

Junior has also been active with fundraisers. During the Half Marathon weekend, he co-managed the parking. This is not a small feat as the attendance and number of cars have increased greatly over the seven years that the event has been held. From 2012-2014 Junior served on the Committee to Design & Purchase our New Tanker. That required
a lot of meeting time and research. He recalls making two trips to the Pierce Manufacturing, Inc. in Appleton, Wisconsin as part of the process of purchasing and customizing the new tanker that was put into service in March 2014.

After ten years as a member of the Fire Company, Junior claims that he would not know as many of his neighbors without this community involvement. He comments, “Not one person can do it alone. It is best to take everyone’s interests into consideration and then put them where their skills can best be used.”
Junior encourages young people to stretch themselves and take responsibility by becoming a firefighter. Get out and meet new people and then learn to work with them! It is a very worthwhile priority in life to help neighbors and that is what keeps Junior serving his community. Junior was named Firefighter of the Year at the Fire Company Turkey Dinner on November 16, 2016.

The Fireman of the Year is chosen through a peer nomination process.

Families Support their Firefighters

The Bird-in-Hand Fire Company held its annual Turkey Dinner on November 16, 2016 at Good and Plenty Restaurant. This is a time when present Fire Company members enjoy getting together with those who have served with the Company in the past. It is truly a heartwarming event with lots of good food and great conversation.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of Lifetime Service Awards to Glen Siegrist and Les Fazekas. To recapture the value of their long years of service, family members were asked to provide photographs and give presentations.

Dawn Siegrist Waltman, daughter of Glen and Louise, spoke about the adventures that she and her siblings shared with their father during his 66 years of service. Since Glen was a plumber and a firefighter, he was constantly responding to emergencies. Even though the Siegrists’ family life was full of interrupting phone calls and fire sirens, pride in their father’s community service came through loud and clear.

As a child, Dawn held her father in high esteem because she mistakenly thought the hat that Glen wore as Fire Police Captain meant that he was in charge of all firefighters and police everywhere! Glen’s children imitated him by directing “fire traffic” in their driveway with their riding toys. After the fire at the Dairy Queen on Route 30 in the mid-70s, Glen brought home free ice cream treats for his children. They enjoyed them even though they tasted like smoke!

Jim Fazekas, the son of Les and Barb Fazekas, spoke for his family and honored his father for 45 years of service. Jim is a former Bird-in-Hand firefighter and presently works as an air traffic controller in Leesburg, Virginia, where he volunteers as a captain of a duty crew with the Leesburg Fire Company. In the past his three brothers, Steve, John, and Mike, and his mother were also involved with the Bird-in-Hand Fire Company and Auxiliary.

Jim described the scenario of his brothers and father responding to their pagers in the dark and trying to get dressed and down the stairs without waking their mother. Invariably the cats were in the wrong place at the wrong time and several got launched down the stairs along with the boys!

Dawn and Jim’s presentations underscore the importance of the support of a firefighter’s family. Balancing family and firefighting responsibilities can be complicated because of the time demands of training and meetings, the unpredictability of fire calls, and the inherent dangers of fighting fires.

A firefighter’s family plays an important support role in personal accountability, wellness, fitness, and advocacy for safety. It is a great benefit to the Fire Company to have family members who are positive and supportive. When firefighters’ families understand and accept the physical and emotional demands of the job, it helps Company morale. Whole families can be inspired by the firefighters’ unselfish service to their community and be equally committed to the cause.

We are blessed with caring families in our Company. We appreciate the many ways they support their parents, spouses, and siblings as firefighters because it is with their help that we can build a strong foundation for excellent fire protection.

 

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.

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.

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.

A Note from the Chief: Five Essential Questions

When a fire company is dispatched for a house fire, there are five essential questions that need answers so that firefighters can do their job. Their priorities are protecting lives and protecting property, in that order. When the fire chief arrives on scene, he will immediately need to know the following:

  1. Where are the people?
  2. Where is the fire?
  3. How big is the fire?
  4. How big might the fire become?
  5. Where might it go in the next several minutes?

Answers to these questions affect where the chief tells the fire trucks to park, what he tells crews to do initially, and whether he calls the dispatch center and asks for a second alarm. At the Bird-in-Hand Fire Company we use our annual census book as one tool to help answer the question of how many people could be in a house (especially at night) and whether there are hazards present that could make the fire worse, such as a propane tank or oxygen cylinders.

Active Firefighting Photo Album

Photos contributed by Lavelle Beiler

Multi company training at Sight & Sound on Nov. 9, 2015. There were Sight & Sound employees hidden in various parts of the building and firefighters needed to locate them and “rescue” them.
Multi company training at Sight & Sound on Nov. 9, 2015. There were Sight & Sound employees hidden in various parts of the building and firefighters needed to locate them and “rescue” them.
SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus) training on Jan. 19, 2016 with the new air packs recently purchased to replace the 16-year-old packs.
SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus) training on Jan. 19, 2016 with the new air packs recently purchased to
replace the 16-year-old packs.

sight-n-sound_drill2