The chief of the Fire Company is an elected position and is put into office for a one-year term by the vote of the general membership. In January 2019 Don Boyer became the 17th Fire Chief in the 110-year history of the Hand-in-Hand Fire Company. It is both an administrative and a firefighting position.
As an administrator, the chief is a part of the Board of Directors, which meets on the last Tuesday of the month. At the general membership meeting on Tuesday of the next week, he gives the Chief’s Report. He is responsible for filling out the call sheets each time the Fire Company responds to an incident. In the report, he lists the details of the fire calls for the past month, and gives an in-depth report for major calls.
The chief meets with his deputy chief and assistant chief at the monthly officers’ meeting; quarterly he attends the Lancaster County Fire Chiefs Association meeting; and once a year there is a meeting of the four chiefs serving in the East Lampeter Township fire companies. He is also an alternate representative on the East Lampeter Township Emergency Services Committee, which meets every two months.
On the firefighting side, the chief leads the Fire Company by staying current with the National Fire Protection Association’s guidelines and state standards. This includes using multiple tools like the website and leadership trainings through webinars. He is involved in many decisions such as purchasing equipment, choosing line officers, and planning the monthly trainings.
When responding to calls, the chief either goes directly to the scene or if needed, drives one of the pieces of equipment. Providing leadership at the emergencies is a big part of the position. Characteristics of a chief must include calmness, level-headedness, and insight in order to coordinate all the efforts at a fire or other incident. At the end of major fires in Bird-in-Hand’s first due, he gives interviews to the media at the scene.
An important goal of a chief is to mentor the next generation of firefighters, giving them responsibility as soon as they are ready and standing with them to give support. Being open to new ideas, acknowledging that many new things are worth a try, and listening and communicating well all help to make a group of volunteer firefighters happy!