A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LINCOLN FIRE CO.
By Gilbert C. Ibach, 1976
Update by Richard Stevenson & Randy Gockley 2001
Early minute books of the Fire Company would indicate the Company was formed sometime in the year 1851. However, the first recorded meeting for the organization was held on July 28th, 1869 at the Public House of Jacob Kofroth in the village of Lincoln. The officers were elected at that meeting: President, Jacob Kofroth; Vice President, J.R. Royer; Secretary, E.M. Musser; Treasurer, Joseph W. Shenk; Engineer, Martin Romig; and Assistant Engineer, Joseph Steininger.
At that time the name of the Company was the “Washington Fire Engine and Hose Company”. It is also known that one time the company was known as the “New Ephrata Fire Company”. Stories have “New Ephrata”, the former name of the village of Lincoln, as being considerably larger than what is now the Borough of Ephrata. However, with the advent of the Reading Railroad locating their tracks through the center of the Borough of Ephrata, it rapidly developed into a larger community than the village of “New Ephrata”.
Old minute books make reference to the fact the Fire Company was in a state of disorganization during the years of 1889 through 1891. During the year 1892 the Fire Company was reorganized but no recorded minutes can be found for approximately nine years thereafter. The next minutes of the Fire Company were found to be recorded for a meeting held on August 29, 1889.
The Fire Company was chartered in the year of 1906. The minutes of May 28, 1906 make reference to the Charter being secured through the service of A.E. Burkerholder, Esq., Lancaster, PA., at a total cost of $23.50.
One of the early minute books of the Fire Company notes the purchase of a new Hand Pumper from Lancaster, PA. Apparently this action caused much dissension at the time as the minute book also has recorded the fact that all of the officers of the Fire Company resigned and formed a “New Fire Company”. There are stories told that the dissenting members “STOLE” the Hand Pumper housed in the old fire company quarters then located on the present site of 1372-74 Apple St. and moved it to new quarters on the site of the building at 1425 Lincoln Heights Ave. It is known that on this site was situated an old school building where some of the older members of the Fire Company attended school in their youth.
This site was modernized several times over the years. In 1963, a larger kitchen and basement meeting room was added. In 1978, two additional bays were added to the structure. Additional land was purchased from the Summy Estate in May of 1981 giving the Fire company frontage on Market St.
The earliest equipment used by the Fire Company were primarily buckets and a Hand Pumper. In 1926, the Fire Company purchased a 1926 Reo chassis and installed a new Hale engine body on it. Cost of this was $4,325.60. After serving the Company faithfully for many years, as well as sitting idle for several more, it was finally sold to J. Henry Hummer who restored it. It was later sold to Mr. James L. Schwartz, Mifflinburg, PA., another former Fire Company member who did further restoration work on it. In September of 1989, Mr. Schwartz sold this truck back to the company at a cost of $8,000.00. It continues to be maintained in working order and has been dedicated to the memory of Luke J. Good, a deceased member of the company.
The Reo Pumper was replaced by a 1947 Hahn Pumper which was purchased at a price of $12,000.00. In 1969, this piece of equipment was replaced with the purchase of an American LaFrance Pumper at cost of approximately $34,000.00. In addition the Fire Company purchased a new 1974 Hahn Pumper for approximately $53,000.00. To supplement the effectiveness of the engines, the Fire Company was the first in Zone #1 to purchase 2,000 ft. of 5-inch supply line in 1983.
In May of 1978, the Fire Company purchased a Ford enclosed box unit for the purpose of a squad truck to carry extra personnel and equipment. This unit was replaced in May of 1990 with a 1989 Ford “Ranger” 17 ft. box unit. Total cost of the squad truck was $139,000.00. The 1978 Squad was then used until 2000 by the Fire Police.
Among the other pieces of moving equipment owned by the Fire Company during the past was an old “Funeral Hearse.” Also, the company pioneered the use of a large tank truck to transport water to the scene of a fire. About the year of 1955, a used Studebaker Tank Truck was donated to the Fire Company by Bob Lutz Co. This became one of the first Tank Trucks put into service in this area by a Fire Company and proved so successful it has since been adopted by many other Fire Companies, especially for use in fighting rural fires.
Through the years many different projects have been used to raise funds in support of the Fire Company… Some good and some bad…but most were quite successful. Many will remember the carnivals held in years gone by with such entertainment as the U.S. Navy Band, Shorty Long & the Santa Fe Rangers, Uncle Jack & Mary Lou, and many other well known groups in their time. Other projects included Card Parties, Raffling, Bingo Games, Auction Sales, stands at the Ephrata Fair, Barbecues, Dinners, and many more.
In 1974 the Fire Company initiated the first annual Fire Company Banquets at which time Certificate of Awards, Service Plaques, and Life Memberships are presented to members for the valuable and devoted service rendered to the Fire Company.
The Company was fortunate to have an active Ladies Auxiliary Unit, which supports its activities. This group of ladies is very dedicated and has proven to be a tremendous asset to the Fire Company in rendering service to the Community.
Another very active organization serving the Fire Company is the Fire Police Unit. They are also of immeasurable value to the Fire Company in its work. The Fire Police purchased its first truck in 1972 (known as the “Paddy Wagon”) and they now utilize a 1999 refurbished Ford Ambulance as their response vehicle.
In 1992, the company replaced the 1969 American LaFrance engine with a 1992 Pierce Lance Engine. This first of its kind unit in Lancaster County features a 54 foot “Squirt” elevated master stream. The cost of this engine was $325,000.00.
In the mid 1990’s, the Company purchased the Klopp property on S. Market St. for $74,000.00. After several years of planning, a new fire station was built at 38 S. Market St. at an approximate cost of $650,000.00. On June 20th 1998, the building was dedicated. The old fire station continues to be owned by the Company as a Community Building.
In late 2000, the Company replaced the 1974 Hahn with a pre-owned 1993 Pierce engine formally used by Winslow Township, New Jersey. This unit was secured under a lease-purchase plan, the first for the Company. The 1974 Hahn was sold to the town of Screamer, Alabama, where it serves the residents of that small community.
In March of 2001, the company continued planning for the future and purchased the Wolf Property located next door to the station, in case future expansion is required.
In July of 2010, the Ephrata Area Rescue Service merged into the Lincoln Fire Co. and the company began to provide rescue service to the area. A 2004 KME Rescue Truck was purchased, which previously served the Madera Fire Co. in Clearfield County. The 1989 Ranger Squad Truck, as well as a 1995 Smeal, formerly owned by Ephrata was sold to organizations out of state. The KME rescue truck and the well trained members of the former Ephrata Area Rescue Service and existing Lincoln Fire Co. are doing a very good job of providing rescue service.
Ever since Ben Franklin started the first volunteer Fire Company in the City of Philadelphia in the year of 1736, Volunteer Firefighters have been dedicated men and women whom seldom receive recognition for their deeds and service rendered to the community. They do, however, have the sense of personal satisfaction knowing full well they have performed a service to their fellow man.
LINCOLN FIRE COMPANY AND ITS MEMBERS ARE PROUD TO BE A PART OF THE TRADITION OF THE VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER.