Dave Haldeman and Bud Shirk were interviewed, along with Les Fazekas and Glen Siegrist, in January 2016. They are the source of many historical stories that are told in this Flickering Embers column.
Memories of Bud Shirk
For many years the Fire Company knew exactly how to deal with their water and electrical problems. They had two very skilled firefighters among their ranks, Glen Siegrist who is a plumber and Bud Shirk who was an electrician. These men lent their vocational expertise whenever there was a plumbing or electrical need at the Fire Hall.
Les Fazekas jokes, “When there was a problem that involved both water and electricity, we wondered whom we should call, Glen or Bud!” Les also explains that Bud could test electrical currents with his bare hands. He stuck his fingers into a socket to see if it was live and could touch 110 and 220 volt wires without getting shocked!
Bud shared memories about helping to clean up the hill outside of the Fire Hall and sweeping the sidewalks. He also remembered helping with a water rescue on Beechdale Road by the mill where the Mill Creek had flooded. He recalled, “We backed in with a ladder truck and took it across to the roof to bring the people out of the second story of the house.”
Bud also recounted that “When I responded to a fire call, I didn’t know if I was going to ride home with the Fire Company or not. It was always, ‘While you’re here Shirk, can you take care of this?’ Bud was a true servant and often stayed longer than the rest of the firefighters to make sure that the electricity was safe for the people after a fire had been put out.
Memories of Dave Haldeman
Dave Haldeman’s garage was located at the corner of Route 340 and Beechdale Road close to the railroad underpass. He was in the very center of town and could get to the Fire Station quickly. This made him a vital link to the town’s safety. Before 911 and pagers, the phone number for Dave’s garage was a follow-up number when the first call at Lloyd and Miriam Weaver’s home could not be reached. When a call came to Dave, he hurried to the Fire Hall to set off the siren.
At one fire on Irishtown Road a building was burning down for a second time. Dave was working to put up a portable pump in the spring. Dave reminisced, “I was working with the pump and I felt something brushing around my neck.” At first he thought it was just a cow and he slapped it away. But instead of a cow, it was a bull!
The problem of loose animals was discussed at the next fire meeting. Mel Esh suggested that the firefighters should have an extra rope on the truck to tie up bulls!
Dave had a lot of support at home. His wife Mary was a member of the Ladies Auxiliary and kept a loaf of bread in the freezer at all times in case there was a big fire and she had to make sandwiches.
Mary explains, “When the fire siren went off, Dave left and I made calls to see if it was a bad fire and if they needed to have the auxiliary’s help. Then we went to work making sandwiches for the firefighters. Kauffman’s Fruit Farm and Market was a very big help. We got food from them.”