There are certain people who have established their own legacy in Bird-in-Hand, not just in the Fire Company, but in the broader community at large. These are people that many of the “locals” recognize wherever they go, and for good reason. Through years of interactions with neighbors and friends, they’ve become someone that could be relied on to be there when needed in the community.
One of these special people in our midst is Tim Hoerner. After decades of service to the Fire Company, in roles from firefighter to President of the company, Tim stepped down from the President position at the end of 2022 and moved into another role on his journey with the Fire Company.
Originally from the Pittsburgh area, Tim began this journey after his graduation from Penn State and the beginning of his professional career. Tim met and married his wife, LouAnn, while studying Agriculture at Penn State University. After graduating and finding employment in the Lancaster area in 1980, he co-founded a local forage testing and agricultural consulting laboratory in 1983 and his business rented the old Hand-in-Hand Fire Station for use as the company office. When the house next door became available for purchase in 1985, the Hoerners purchased it and moved to Bird-in-Hand. It was at this time (late 1983) that Tim began his involvement with the Fire Company. “Working across the street, renting from the Fire Company, growing up with an infatuation with fire trucks, what can I say, I fell in love with it!” says Tim.
Jerry Smucker, who was chief at the time, initially invited Tim to attend some fire meetings and later encouraged him to join. Jerry realized Tim’s knowledge of the area, farms, and roads, due to his work in local agriculture as a soil scientist, meant that Tim could be a valuable asset to the Fire Company and community. And so, in 1984, Tim began his decades long journey, initially training as a firefighter and an engineer.
Tim thrived in the Fire Company, dedicated countless hours to training, and quickly became knowledgeable about all aspects of the emergency services. His outgoing personality and his passion for the fire service and community propelled him through the ranks of the Fire Company. Beginning as a firefighter and engineer, he quickly rose into leadership positions as Recording Secretary, Fire Chief, Vice President, and ultimately to President of the organization, a position he’s filled for the past 12 years.
Tim was present during many of the historic and difficult events in the community over the last several decades, actively participating in many memorable incidents in the Bird-in-Hand area. On the better days, “it’s amazing that you are getting to a call, and within 10-15 minutes you were able to help someone on one of the worst days of their lives.”
There are times when being an emergency responder can be difficult, and Tim and his skills were challenged many times, including the Sight & Sound fire in 1997, the Amerigas explosion in 2003, and rallying the community to aid in the tragic local events of 2020. The outcomes weren’t always favorable, but at every opportunity, Tim, along with his fellow volunteers, made every effort to turn bad situations into something positive.
One of Tim’s many attributes has always been his passion for mentoring young people in the Fire Company. Many current members, including people in key leadership positions, have benefited from Tim’s willingness to share his knowledge and provide encouragement to members as they deal with challenges, many of which he’s already experienced. When asked about Tim, current President Paul Fisher said that “Tim has been an inspiration and an example of integrity, loyalty, and selfless service throughout the years. I can’t ever remember having asked for Tim’s help with a project when he hasn’t responded enthusiastically and with encouragement.”
Tim has a passionate focus on education, family, and community. Through the years, he has sacrificed family events and managed co-workers’ expectations just as all first responders do. Tim shares that “there is never a good time for an emergency, but being there for people, when they need it most, is so rewarding.”
Regarding his future in the Fire Company, Tim remains actively engaged in many areas. He currently serves on the Recruitment & Retention Committee, welcoming new members to the fire service and using his creativity to help maintain and grow our pool of volunteers. During the past several years he has been instrumental in training new engineers, another critical need for the Fire Company. He remains in a leadership position to help organize the annual half marathon fundraiser and still helps with all of the fundraisers. In addition, he continues to respond as an engineer to emergency calls and is an active and valuable resource in training the next generation of firefighters.
Tim is now taking on an additional role, the role of helping the many firefighters that he has mentored over the years to move up through the ranks and take on more responsibilities in the organization. This could end up being his most important role of all. Tim, along with other veteran members of the fire company provide a critical source of stability to the Fire Company. The maturity and wisdom of the veteran members, along with the energy and enthusiasm of the younger members, creates a healthy, rewarding, and enjoyable environment, that allows our Fire Company to continue to thrive over 110 years after its founding.
Tim continues to look towards the future – “I’m incredibly gratified to see young people continue to come out and get involved in serving our community as volunteer firefighters. I’ve been blessed to be a small part of this incredible community and I look forward to even better years ahead.”
The next time you see Tim around town, ask him to tell you a story about one of his experiences with the Fire Company. You’re guaranteed to hear an interesting story and learn a few things…even if you may end up a little late for your next appointment!
Thank you for your service, Tim!