- Dec 7, 2010 - 2:02:53 PM
The following history was compiled by Bob Devonshire Jr. This is the first comprehensive historical record compiled as to the best of my knowledge. All information is taken from the company minute books, word of mouth and personal experience. If you happen to find a mistake or want to add something please e-mail me.
Big Four Fire Company
October 4, 1920, is the birth date of the fire company. Originally a member of the Big Four Fire Company we were formed along with Lampeter, New Danville and West Willow Fire Companies.
On Monday evening October 4, 1920 a group of men from the communities of Lampeter, New Danville, West Willow and Refton met to discuss, after considerable agitation, the subject of fire fighting apparatus tof the communities. A meeting,held at the Lampeter High School, was called to order by the temporary chairman, Benjerman L. Herr. After much discussion the following men were elected as a Board of Directors:
- President John F. Weavev
- 1st Vice PresidentI. B. Graybill
- 2nd Vice President William M. Musser
- Secretary Benjerman L. Herr
- Treasurer H. H. Snavley
- P. R. Shellenberger, Emlin B. Mylin, Dr. A. E. Leaman, A.S. Hersh, A. R. Herr and A. W. Hess.
The first meeting adjourned after selectin "The Big Four Fire Company" as the official name.
Over the next several months funds were rasied through donations and pledges to order four Fire Trucks. On January 17, 1921 the contract was awarded to the Prospect Mfg. Company of Prospect, Ohio in the amount of $7,339.00 for four complete units, delivered to Lancaster.
The new machines arrived in Lancaster on April 1, 1921 and were turned over to the Big Four on April 7 after a final demonstration at the Willow Street Vocational School and to the entire saticfaction of some 200 witnesses.
Mr. Paul Graybill was the Fire Chief of Refton.
The Fire Chief's salary was set at $5.00 per mounth.
On May 18, 1922 it was approved to place and maintain a fire machine East end of Strasburg Borough.
On December 4, 1922 the Township Supervisors reported to the Big Four that they had laied a 1/2 mill tax for maintence of the apparatus of the Big Four.
As time marched on the indivual companies continued to grow until February 27, 1929 when it was decided that each company become one of its own and so the Big Four Fire Company was disbanded.
Refton Community Fire Company
After the Big Four disbanded we became known as the Refton Home and Improvement Society. This organixation was primaraly responcible for the war effort in the Refton area. It took part in air raid drills, black out drills and first aid assistence in the event of bombings. They also constructed a 30,000 gallon cistern, built sidewalks and installed the srteet lights that are still in opperation today.
On September 11, 1942 the members decided to get chartered and be known as the Refton Community Fire Company. This became official October 23, 1942 when the charter was recorded in the Lancaster County Court House.
During the summer of 1942 a Dodge chassis was purchased and the chemical truck was rechassised. This truck was a large soda ash extinguisher, it had no pump.
The fire house was located to the rear of a garage owned by Paul B. Graybill, the first Fire Chief. This is where the current Post Office is located.
On October 9, 1942 the members decided to have thier first fund raiser. They raffeled off five turkeys and two $25.00 war bonds.
We joined the Lancaster County Firemans Association on January 8, 1945.
The Ladies Auxillary formed April 17, 1947.
May of 1948 the members purchased ground from W. H. Schnieder for $1,950.00 in order to build a fire house. Students from Stevens Trade School architect class designed the building and presented plans to the members on November 15, 1949. Ground was broke May 1951 and the building was finished in 1954.
The members ordered the first Pumper in April 1951. They chose a 1951 International - Central 500 gallon pumper.
March of 1955 the members purchased a 1000 gallon International tanker to replace the chemical truck.
Over the next several years the members held fund raisers, includeing festivals, dinners and block shoots.
In 1973 the members purchased a 1973 International - Young pumper. A 750 gpm front mount pump and 500 gallons of water on an all wheel drive chassis. The new pumper replaced the 1951 pumper. This piece continues to serve the department today as Engine 5-9-1.
July 1980 a 1500 gallon International Car-Mar tanker was placed into service. This replaced the 1955 tanker.
In June of 1986 the members decided to add a new pantry and modern bathrooms to the fire house. We also gained much needed storage in the basement of the fire house.
August 1990 we placed into service a 1989 Ford - E-One pumper. 1,250 gpm and 1,250 gallon tank. This replaced the 1980 tanker and is our current first out attack piece and is Engine 5-9-2
1992 we celebrated our 50th anniversery of our charter. We celebrated with a large fireworks show in August at our festival. We also had an open house along with several displays from our neighboring fire companies of fire fighting.
We purchased a 1973 GMC Suburban from Willow Street Fire Company to place in service as Squad 5-9 in 1995.
In 1995 we began to look into the posability of expanding our engine room. Over the next four years we replaced or existing 900 square foot engine room with a 2,900 square foot, three bay wide two bay deep engine room. 95% of this project was done with the help of local resident and businesses as well as members. The only parts of the construction that was subcontracted out was the concrete floor, the bay doors and the brick work on the front.
After the expansion of the engine room was well under way it was decided to look into placeing a new tanker into service. In December of 1998 we placed into service a 1998 Peterbuilt - New Lexington 3,500 gallon tanker with a 1,750 gpm pump. This was added to our fleet as Tanker 5-9.