Rescue Fire Company History


1892 - 1992

On March 4, 1892, a number of citizens of Dallastown Boro converged at the residence of J.C. Heckert for the purpose of organizing a fire company.

Members of the Rescue Fire Company of York were present at this meeting and helped in the planning and organization of the fire company. It was only natural that the company be named after the sponsors. Upon a motion made by P.G. Shaw and seconded by J.C. Heckert, the name for the fire company shall be called The Rescue Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1 of Dallastown, PA. A motion that the fire company should also be chartered was made by Wm. Sechrist. A committee was appointed to form a constitution and by-laws. Officers were approved for one year and estimates for an engine were read from the American Works and the Rumsey Works on March 19, 1892. The president appointed three men to canvass the town for aid for the purpose of purchasing a fire engine.

On March 26, 1892, minutes from the last meeting were read and approved. It was moved and seconded that the members sign the application for a Charter; also the fire company should correspond with the Rumsey Company to see if any fire engines were in stock. On April 5, 1892, a report from Edward Heisler was made that the Rumsey Company did not have fire engines in stock. It was moved and seconded that Edward Heisler write to the Rumsey Co. and inform them that the Rescue Fire Company was ready to contract for a fire engine. On April 12, 1982, an agreement was made between the Rumsey Engine Co. and the Rescue Fire Co. of Dallastown for the purchase of an engine.

Also during this meeting, the president appointed a building committee. April 19, 1892, the building committee reported progress and the president appointed two members to make a cart or tank for water to be used with the new hand pumper.

On October 11, 1892, the fire company sent a check for the amount of $204.00 to Rumsey Co. for the balance on the engine and borrowed $150.00 from the York City Bank for 90 days. The Rumsey hand fire pump was mounted on a water tank made by the members. This tank held about 200 gallons of water drawn from the well pumps in the borough and by a bucket brigade. Also purchased at this time was a hand-drawn combination hose and ladder cart. This equipment was used until 1905. This wagon, although not used, is still in the possession of the company and can be viewed at the York County Fire Museum along with the Ramsey hand pump. 

 On August 12, 1893, it was moved and seconded that an alarm bell be bought and the weight of the bell should be 225 pounds. This bell was placed in the center of town to give the alarm in case of fire. During the September 19, 1893 meeting, it was decided to purchase the following items: a sixteen ft. hook pole, a pick ax, two pick hatches, a hose repair kit, and a twenty ft. ladder. Then on August 3, 1896, the trustees were given approval to purchase 200 ft. of hose, five hose patches, three couplings, and an ax. 

A special meeting was called on March 8, 1897, for the purpose of considering the site to erect the first engine house. A lot (30 ft. x 66 ft.) was purchased from B.F. Wallick for a sum of $150.00. It was situated on East Main Street between the U.B. Parsonage and William Sechrist’s property. The Treasurer of the town council presented a check for $100.00 to Rescue Fire Company and a voucher was granted for payment for the balance on the lot to B.F. Wallick on April 6, 1897. It was decided to build a 24 ft. x 26 ft. brick engine house. On April 26, 1897, Mathias Reigart, Jr. was awarded the contract for the lowest bid of $739.00. The firehouse construction was completed in 1899 and was located at 50 East Main Street. 

The monthly meetings would be held in the parlor and the other rooms were rented to other groups such as the town council, school board, etc. On April 11, 1901, it was decided to hold the fire company meetings on the first Thursday evening of each month. In November 1902, a discussion was held on the purchase of a steam fire engine. In November 1904, bids were sent out for the purchase of the steam fire engine.

As a result of the January 1905 meeting, the monthly meeting was changed to the second Tuesday of the month. The following bill was presented to the fire company on July 11, 1905, from the American LaFrance Co.:

One Engine, $4,050.00

One Hose Wagon, $450.00

And Rubber Coats and Hats, $42.00. 

The American LaFrance was the first mechanically operated pump having a steam engine pumper capable of pumping more than 500 gallons per minute. This pumper was drawn to the fire by hand because the time needed to hitch the horses was too long.

The only time in which horses were used was during parades. In 1908, it was decided that horses would be used when going to neighboring towns and that J.J. Taylor would furnish the horses. This piece of equipment was used until 1936 but was only used in emergencies after 1924. In the latter part of 1905, a new hose wagon was purchased. This wagon housed the hose on a large reel and was also hand-drawn. 

A motion was made during the April 1906 meeting, that the local church bells be used to sound the fire alarms and the churches agreed to this motion. On January 24, 1907, a motion was made to set up uniforms for the members. Uniforms were first used by the company on June 29, 1907, for a dress parade. Members were expected to pay $2.50 for their uniforms. Members who owned uniforms were required to be in uniform for all parades and other events, with fifty-cent fines being imposed if they did not attend. On Dec. 10, 1907, a committee was set up to confer with the town council on a mutual agreement between Yoe and Red Lion fire companies; also during this time another committee was formed to purchase a new fire alarm bell. On March 10, 1908, the trustees were ordered to have the bell tower refurbished for the new bell. The bill was approved on April 11, 1908, for the new bell from McShane Bell Company for $446.03 and $3.40 freight. The dedication for the bell was on June 1, 1908. This is presently housed in front of Station 35.

On Aug. 9, 1910, a committee was appointed to consult the U.B. Trust to purchase the old U.B. Parsonage and the church property for the purpose of building a new firehouse. On May 9, 1911, the committee reported that the U.B. Parsonage would cost $2,650.00 and the church property would cost $3,000.00 including the extended lot of William Sechrist. During this time the town council was asked by the fire company to appropriate monies to the fire company which would be used to purchase the land. The town council was not able to do this at that time.

Then on March 22, 1912, the trustees were instructed to purchase the properties and arrange the finances. On Sept. 10, 1912, $3,500.00 in cash was paid and $2,500.00 by note. A public sale was set up to sell the engine house. The firehouse was sold for $1,125.00 on Feb. 11, 1913. A committee was appointed to see whether any of the buildings on the church property could be used for the new firehouse. It was decided during the March 11, 1913 meeting not to remodel but to tear down the buildings and build a new firehouse. On April 8, 1913, the trustees were authorized to arrange a loan and obtain the necessary monies. Mr. Hamme was chosen to be the architect and was paid the sum of thirty-five dollars for the plans. The bid of $4,775.00 from William E. Reigart, who was a uniformed member, was awarded on July 8, 1913. The fire company held its dedication of the new building on June 19 & 20, 1914.

With the finances of the new building in trouble, the town council was asked to take over the building. On Sept. 14, 1915, the deed was transferred to the town council. The building on 118 E. Main Street was used by the fire company until August 1981. 

During the July 12, 1921 meeting, the trustees were instructed to get some rope or make arrangements by which the engine could be pulled by a truck. Then on Feb. 14, 1922, A few of the members spoke about the purchase of a motorized fire engine. Between the Feb. 1922 meeting and the June 1923 meeting, the topic of the motorized fire engine came up many times, but very little was accomplished. The trustees reported during the July 10, 1923 meeting, that they had been before the town council and discussed the matter of the motorized fire engine. On January 8, 1924, the fire company received some support for the motorized fire engine from the Board of Commerce saying that it would stand by the fire company for a new fire engine. Dallastown needed a motorized fire engine and needed it very badly, and finally, a committee was set up. A special meeting was held on Jan. 28, 1924, to write up the specifications for the new fire engine and the committee was sent to the council to recommend a 750-gallon American LaFrance fire engine with a rotary pump, 38″ wheels, and solid tires. Of the members present at the special meeting, forty-four voted yes and four voted no. On April 8, 1924, a voucher for the amount of $12,250.00 was granted in favor of the American La France Fire Engine Company for the first motorized fire engine in Dallastown. 

On May 12, 1925, a motion was made to study the need for an electric siren to be used to alert the members in case of fire. Previously the bell was used to sound the alarm. It was agreed to obtain a siren for a few months to see whether this would improve the turnout of manpower for fires. The siren was tested weekly on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The Sterling Fire Siren Co. was paid $401.38 for the siren during the March 9, 1926 meeting. It was said that this siren could be heard within a two-mile radius of the borough. 

On Nov. 9, 1926, the members discussed the possibility of holding the York County Firemen’s Convention in Dallastown, and on June 14, 1927, the committee met with the association about the convention. In August 1929, the Rescue Fire Company hosted the County Convention. 

In 1937, cards were printed with the day and night phone numbers for fire calls and were distributed in the borough and to the surrounding rural areas. On Feb. 14, 1939, the president of the fire company appointed a committee to begin a ladies auxiliary. A meeting was held on March 2, 1939, with a group of interested ladies. Much credit for the organizing and success of the auxiliary was given to Mrs. Samuel Seitz, better known to her many friends as “Molly”, who made a house-to-house canvass for membership. In case of a fire call or any emergency, the ladies would serve sandwiches, coffee, and other refreshments. In 1940 a marching unit was organized and a large banner was made for parade use. While parading at Lewistown in the 1942 State Convention parade, they won the State Championship trophy. During W.W. II many of the members took first aid instruction and home nursing courses. They also bought a stretcher to be used in case of an emergency. They sent cards to all servicemen and women from the community who served in the armed forces during the war. 

The Ladies Auxiliary of Rescue Fire Company has always been very supportive of the fire company with donations of money food, equipment, and time.

The borough and the outlying areas continued to grow. On July 9, 1940, W.H. Seitz was appointed by the fire company to meet with the York Twp. commissioners to discuss providing fire protection in the township. Because the area in need of protection had increased, a committee was set up with the borough on Feb. 11, 1941, to purchase another fire apparatus. On May 1, 1941, Rescue Fire Co. met in a special meeting to review the bids for the new fire engine. A triple combination 500-gallon Seagrave pumper was purchased at the price of $5,820.00.

Then on July 1943, the members solicited the town for donations to start a fund for a service truck. The one-ton panel International service truck was equipped with a stretchergas masks, fire extinguishers, Indian fire pumps, rakes, shovels, coats, boots, helments, and gloves. A portable light plant, lights and portable pumper were also carried on this piece. The Chief, 1st. & 2nd. assistants and/or the hose director were to take the service truck to fires with any designated driver. 

During the years after W.W. II, more homes were being built and the factories were expanding. Due to this there was the need for another triple combination pumper. On Nov. 12, 1946, a committee was formed. The order for a Mack pumper was placed during the October 12, 1948 meeting, at a cost of $8,805.50. The month before, the company gave approval for the Chief and the assistants to place sirens on their cars.

The company moved and seconded the motion to accept the Mack into service on May 10, 1949.

A special housing and dedication was set-up at Keller’s park. 

On Nov. 15, 1949, the box alarm system was put into service and additional boxes were added during the years. This system, costing approximately $8,000.00 was purchased from the proceeds of an annual fair held jointly by the Fire Company and the Jaycees. The box alarm system was taken out of service in the early 1980’s. The reason for this was the increased usage of County Control’s (911) phone system and the decreased number of calls from the box alarms. On April 11, 1950, a motion was moved and seconded to replace the service truck with a new G.M.C. panel truck.

Modern accessories were added to make this one of the most up-to-date service trucks available. During 1952, two-way mobile radios were installed on the Seagrave, Mack, service truck and the main radio station located in the engine house. 

On May 10, 1955, Rescue Fire Company was assigned radio unit numbers #8 through #14 by the York County Fire Association. During 1956, eight members were licensed by the FCC to operate the radio base station. During the mid 50’s the company met with officials from ladder truck manufacturers and tanker suppliers. It was decided that the roads and bridges might not support the heavier equipment. Then on June 11, 1957, the company purchased a Dodge chassis with a 750-gallon Seagrave pumper for $11,763.00.

On Oct. 1957 the company advertised the sale of the old American LaFrance pumper via sealed bids. The old hand pumper was placed into the Lauck’s Museum and is now in the York County Firemen’s Museum along with the old hose cart. 

The discussion about a new service truck came up during the April 10, 1962 meeting. A committee was organized and recommended that an International chassis be purchased. On Aug. 14, 1962, the fire company paid $4,850.00 for the 145 hp, 6-cylinder service truck. This unit was in service until Jan. 1992.

On May 14, 1963 the topic of younger members came up, and the age limits between sixteen to eighteen were allowed. Only those who lived in the Boro limits were allowed to join the fire company. During W.W. II, the age limit was reduced because of the war effort, and after the war, the eighteen years of age limit was reinstated. Jan. 14, 1969, a committee was set-up to purchase monitors so that the members could be tone alerted in case of a fire and on April 8, 1969, thirty monitors were ordered. 

On August 12, 1969, a committee was formed for the purpose of writing specifications for a new fire apparatus. A special meeting was held on March 24, 1970 to vote for the new engine- a Seagrave custom pumper- 500 gallon tank and 1,000 gpm pump for $32,906.00. The major topic of discussion for this unit concerned changing the Cherry Red color engine to yellow.

Engine 35-1 (the Bird, as it is called among the members) was the first unit to be painted yellow and was the stepping stone for our present color scheme (yellow and white). 

During the 1970’s some events occurred upon which this company can look back and see how the Rescue Fire Company became a respectable and innovative fire company. October 12, 1971 the fire company purchased four airpacks (SCBA) which would become one of the major strengths of this fire company. Oct. 29, 1974, a special meeting was held for the purpose of purchasing the property at 1 West Main Street for the future site of a new fire hall. This property served the fire company greatly even though it would not be used as the permanent site for the present fire hall. It was first used for income via flea markets and other rentals until this company started Bingo on January 7, 1977. This property was sold when the new firehouse was completed. 

The first female member was voted into the fire company on Oct. 12, 1976. Specifications for a new Attack pumper were set up in April 1977, and on May 10, 1977, Emergency One was awarded the contract for a GMC E-1 Quick Attack Pumper for $39,747.00. The service truck was converted into an air cascade unit to service the needs of the surrounding fire companies for air. On May 8, 1979, the company was given approval to purchase an air compressor for the air unit at a cost of $8,137.49. 

The location and the tentative plans for the new firehouse were discussed during the July 10, 1979 meeting. The boro took over the property known as the Dallastown Fair Grounds to construct a public park. The fire company requested that some of the grounds be used for the future home of Rescue Fire Company. September 11, 1979 the building committee met with Baird Krecher who was retained as the architect. This was the same firm that designed the fire house at 118 E. Main Street in 1913. June 24, 1981, a special meeting was held for the purpose of opening sealed bids for the new firehouse. The low bid was awarded for the sum of $516,948.00. Ground breaking took place on Aug. 19, 1981 with the dedication of the new and present firehouse on Aug. 28, 1982.

During the Oct. 11, 1983 meeting, the topic of large diameter hose came up. At that time three inch hose was used to supply water to the engines, while the neighboring fire companies were going to four inch L.D.H. Should Rescue Fire Company go with four inch L.D.H. or go one step further with five inch L.D.H.? After much discussion the five inch L.D.H. was ordered and on Nov. 8, 1983, the five inch L.D.H. was placed into service. On April 14, 1987, a motion was made and seconded that the company build an addition to the existing building at an approximate cost of $103,442.00. This would serve as the meeting room for the fire company and afforded extra storage areas for the kitchen and main hall. 

The fire company’s operations took another step forward with the purchase of a used tanker from the Boiling Springs Fire Company for $21,500.00 on May 12, 1981.

Because the active membership had not increased, the fire company looked for other means to increase interest in membership and started a Fire Explorer Post (Boys Scouts of America) on Dec. 14, 1982. Membership in Post 35 was open to any young boy or girl between the ages of fourteen to eighteen. It was anticipated that these youth would become members in the fire company when they turned eighteen years of age. 

On February 14, 1984, a truck committee was appointed to purchase a new pumper, and during the special meeting on Sept. 24, 1984 the vote was taken for the purchase of a Hahn Custom pumper costing $156,211.00 and including: 1,000 gal. tank, 1,500 gmp pump, 35 ft. ladder and a deluge gun. The final cost for the new Hahn with equipment was $194,307.00, and it Engine 35-2 arrived in Aug. 1985.

Also during 1985, the company set-up a committee for the purchase of a new tanker and during a special meeting on Jan. 2, 1986 purchased a Mack MC fire chassis for $61,500.00. On April 8, 1986, the tanker committee re- ported that the Kovatch Company would build the tanker at a cost of $71,062.00. Tanker 35 was placed into service on March 3, 1987. It featured a 1,000 gpm pump, 2,800 gal. of water, three dumps (2 side dumps and a rear jet dump), 3,000 gal. folding tank, deck gun, and crosslays for 1 3/4″ attack lines. During September of 1991, Tanker 35 was taken to Kovatch to have its tank replaced with a new polytank and the gallon capacity was increased to 3,000.

On March 8, 1988, a committee was formed to investigate the need for a new air truck. Plans for purchase of the truck were to center on an air cascade/ squad/salvage type apparatus. On March 14, 1989, the committee ap- proved the bid from Hahn to build the chassis and Saulsbury would build the box at an estimated cost of $240,000.00. During the July 11, 1989 meeting, it was announced that the chassis expected delivery date would be Oct. 1989 at a cost of $101,650.00 and the approximate cost of the box from Saulsbury would be $168,592.00 without equipment. May 8, 1990 the air truck committee decided to order a Spartan chassis due to the fact that Hahn Motor Company was going to file for bankruptcy. The contract with Hahn was voided. The Spartan chassis was completed in March 1991, and sent to Saulsbury for completion of the box. The final inspection of the long awaited air unit took place in Oct. 1991, and the unit was placed into service in Nov. 1991 with the final cost of $308,340.98. 

January 14, 1992 the Explorer Post became a Junior Firefighter organization with the fire company’s present by- laws being changed to reflect this motion. During Feb. of 1992, the members were measured for the next generation of uniforms: yellow uniform shirts, brown pants with a yellow side stripe, and black shoes. 

The phantom box alarms are being designed for the borough. This project is not just for Dallastown but for all of York County. When York County Control dispatches the fire company, the dispatcher will give a box area for the location. 

This will give the members a good location point for directions. Also there will be a listing as to the type of fire and equipment that should respond for each fire call. The Rescue Fire Company has joined the York Township Fire and Emergency Rescue Services Association for fire protection in York Twp. The membership includes the following fire companies: Goodwill (Spry), Yoe, Jacobus, Red Lion and Dallastown. This organization should improve communications between the member fire companies and give future direction toward purchases of fire equipment among the members. 

The 80th York County Firemen’s Convention on held on Aug. 15, 1992. This will climax two years of Pulling Together with the Yoe Fire Company, who co-host the convention. 

This history is dedicated to the following Charter Members: 

J. Fred Heisler 

G. W. Heisler 

H. Q. Sechrist 

W. W. Dietz 

A. P. T. Grove 

C. R. Heisler 

Franklin Heisler 

A. B. Helder 

Wilson Glatfelter 

W. H. Raab 

Edward Heisler 

Henry Stacks 

A. F. Brillhart 

P. G. Shaw 

J. C. Heckert 

E. H. Green 

Michael Hose 

E. F. Grim 

William Sechrist 

J. S. Shaw 

Written by : Richard G. Rutledge March 1992

1992 to 2021 Coming Soon!

Updated by: Chase Barnett 2023