Category Archives: Positions

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.

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.