Flickering embers from the past: My First Fire With Bird-in-Hand Fire Company

My first fire with Bird-in-Hand Fire Company  – Submitted by Les Fazekas

In 1969 Barbara and I moved to Bird-in-Hand and Dick Sweigart of TriTown Electric in Leola hired me as his assistant electrician, even though I knew nothing about electrical work.  My work included replacing old wiring in old buildings, installing wiring in old homes that never had electricity before, and wiring a new commercial building for H. M. Stauffer Lumber and Coal Company in Leola.  Amazingly, I worked mostly by myself with my limited knowledge of all things electrical.

When the fire sirens went off one evening in December 1970, and I heard on the radio that there was a fire at the lumberyard, I was nervous.  I wondered, “What did I do wrong?!”  Barbara and I jumped into the car to see what was burning.  I was relieved to see that it was not the building I had just worked on, but rather the large stack of lumber along the railroad siding.

Barbara and I were parked behind the Bird-in-Hand fire truck where Dave Haldeman from the Bird-in-Hand Garage was struggling with a heavy hose.  No one was there to help him pull it from the truck, so I went over to offer assistance.  He put me to work right away!

I told Dave about my electrical work on the millwork building and he asked if I could show the engine crew how to navigate the lumberyard to find the hydrant on the other side of the tracks.  That’s when I met Leroy Dombach, the engineer on the fire truck.  We found the hydrant and began pumping water to another truck fighting the fire.

It took several hours before the fire was under control.  Meanwhile Barbara was still waiting in the car on a cold night with no clue where I was and no means of contacting me.  That was my unofficial start with the Bird-in-Hand Fire Company.  Elmer Glick wanted me to wait to officially start in January to keep the records straight so I officially joined the next month, in January 1971.

I eventually worked for Leroy Dombach and learned to sew and install awnings. That led me to purchase several commercial sewing machines, which I now use to repair and improve fire gear.  In time each of our four sons joined the Fire Company, serving in various offices including chief.

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