Company History

History Notes of the Hershey Volunteer Fire Company


August 31, 1905 – The first organizational meeting was held in a car barn on East Chocolate Avenue across from the Chocolate factory, 33 men attended.

February 4, 1906 – The Fire Company is permanently organized and moved into a building on East Chocolate Avenue next to the Chocolate Factory. The site was later the location of the Post Office and is now a vacant lot.

February 17, 1907 – Official charter granted – This carries the names of 73 men including Milton S. Hershey. He proved to be a great benefactor to the company.

May 2, 1911 - Imboden Barn; Citizens waiting for the trolley at the Derry Church stop noticed flames from a nearby barn about noon. The steamer pumped from the creek at the foot of the hill on Chocolate Avenue. Built in 1803, the barn was a total loss.

June 20, 1912 - Hershey Laundry Building; Flames were discovered in the northwest corner of the building at about 3:15am. Firemen arrived quickly and were able to keep the flames from reaching the most important machinery. Damages were estimated at $20 to laundry, $250 to some equipment, and about a thousand dollars to the building.

April 23, 1914 - Hershey Chocolate Company Main Power Plant; At 5:20pm an engineer on duty discovered a blaze in the roof over the switchboard in the engine room. The factory alarm was sounded and the town fire whistle was blown. In about 45 minutes the fire was under control, but six engines and the dynamos were badly damaged. Power for the Hershey Transit Company was affected stalling three trolley cars at various locations. Lebanon sent a motor fire truck that made the run in 27 minutes, but their services were not required.

May 30, 1914 - J.B. Curry Mill, Swatara Station; A shed and grain warehouse were totally destroyed by fire. Two coal cars and a boxcar on a siding were also badly damaged. However, firefighters kept the flames from reaching two homes just across the tracks. A chemical engine from Hummelstown assisted at the scene. Loss was given at $40,000.

June 23, 1928 – A new firehouse was dedicated. It was built on land donated by Mr. Hershey. This remains the center section of the current firehouse.

March 14, 1929 – Ladies Auxiliary formed. Served for many years but is no longer active.

October 1952 – Two-way radios are placed into servi ce. These were the first in use by any fire department in Dauphin County.

January 14, 1954 – Hershey Ambulance Corps was organized as a subsidiary of the Fire Company and served the community for over 40 years. The first vehicle was a 1954 Pontiac ambulance. Eventually the name was changed to the Hershey Emergency Medical Service. By this decade it has grown into an organization with a full time staff operating four emergency vehicles. It included the only fire company operated paramedic unit in Dauphin County. Its operation was then taken over in 1995 by Derry Township, and it now operates as University Hospital EMS.

February 1956 – A two bay addition is added to the East Side of the firehouse.

June 1963 – Fire Company was host for the 45th annual Dauphin County Firemen’s Parade and convention. The company had hosted this event previously in 1932 and 1949.

April 1968 – The first Rotary Auction was held to benefit the Fire Company, A continuing annual event.

July 1970 – Ground is broken for a major addition on the West Side of the firehouse to include additional bay space, offices, and a new canteen area (restaurant) in the basement.

May 1977 – The Fire Company was the host for an Invitational Rescue Competition. This event was continued for three years.

May 1980 – First Annual Chocolatetown Firemen’s Parade is held. This event continued for 12 years.

September 1981 – First Chief’s car was placed in service; A 1979 Chevy Malibu formerly used by the Derry Township Police. A 2008 GMC Yukon is the most recent vehicle to serve as a Chief’s car. The Fire Company duty officer responds to calls in a similar GMC Yukon.

July 1987 – The 1000th meeting was celebrated and included a Housing ceremony for several pieces of apparatus.

August 1995 – A new rescue competition hosted by the Fire Company and Hess Ford is held. It has become an annual event but sadly came to an end after its third year. The Hess Ford dealership was sold to Maguires Ford and moved to Campbelltown.

November 9-16, 2002 - "The Guys", a play produced by the Hershey Area Playhouse was performed in the west bay of the firehouse. The play depicted events that followed 9/11.

June 10-11, 2005 - Dauphin County Convention & Parade was hosted by the Hershey Volunteer Fire Department.. This was also the celebration of the fire company's 100th Birthday.

July 5, 2006 - Eight cars of a 76-car Norfolk Southern train derailed in the area east of the Derry Road crossing. Crews were on scene for three days while railroad officials and hazardous materials crews cleaned up the wreckage of a Chlorine tanker and 7 others. Derry Presbyterian Church, Hershey Trust Company, and Zoo America were closed. Parts of Hershey Country Club West were closed, but the swimming pool, the east course, the clubhouse and the tennis courts remained open. The derailment did not affected the Hershey Chocolate Factory or Hersheypark.

September 7, 2011 - Tropical Storm Lee dumped records amounts of rain on the Hershey area, resulting in record setting water marks on the Spring and Swatara Creeks.  The Department was alerted for 294 calls for service in a five day window.  One township man was killed on Grove Street when his basement wall collapsed on him while he was attempted to pump his basement.  President Obama declared Dauphin County a disaster area.

July 5th, 2012 - While Engine 48 was returning from a Barn Fire in South Hanover Township, the Company was dispatched to the Old Hersheypark Arena for a smoke in a structure. This event became a 5+ Alarm Fire, with fire apparatus from 5 different counties on scene. With high humidity, extreme heat, and access problems, hundreds of Firemen assisted in gaining access to the trouble spot. The building's total damage amount? $1,000.



* Frank Snavely 1905-1907
* A.W. Snavely 1907-1909 
* E.B. Cassady 1909-1911
*William Brinker 1911-1923
* Paul Shoop 1923-1924      
* Clarence Ulrich 1924-1928 
* John Sollenberger 1928-1929
* John Hossler 1929-1930
* John Zoll, Jr. 1930-1931
* Cyrus Garman 1931-1937
* Stewart Mahon 1937-193
* E.C. Black 1940-1941
* J.W. Dressler 1941-1946
* Samuel Strine 1946-1948
* John Lepperd 1948-1950
* Samuel Strine 1950-1951
* James Rice 1951-1953
* Felton Ebersole 1956-1958
* Percy Eckert 1958-1973
* Paul Willard 1973-1976
Richard B. Rudisill 1976-1988
Irvin James Hess 1988-1989
Russell Knapp III 1989-1990
* Richard B. Rudisill 1990-1996
* Jaymie Smolens 1997-1999
Joshua Holl 2000-2001
Scott A. Stein 2002-2011
David Stough 2012-

*- Denotes Deceased



* C.V. Glynn 1905-1910
* John Conrad 1910-1925
* Harry Boyer 1925-1934
* Herman Seavers 1934-1942
* C.R. Balsbaugh 1942-1949
* Paul Hetrick, Sr. 1947-1949
* Walter Strine 1949-1951
* Paul Seavers 1951-1952
* George Trump 1952-1954
* Eugene Gray 1957-1960
* George Trump 1960-1962
* Robert Raffensperger 1962-1973
Todd Pagliarulo 1973-1977
Eugene A. Sajeski 1977-1979
John Payne 1979-1990
Russell Knapp III 1990-1992
Richard Lenker, Jr. 1992-1996
Patrick S. Leonard 1997-Present


* - Denotes Deceased


Apparatus History Notes of the Hershey Volunteer Fire Company


The first piece of apparatus was a two-wheel hand-drawn hose cart with 400 feet of 2 ½ inch hose.

1906 – A Button steam fire engine was delivered. Several years later a hook and ladder wagon was added.

1918 – Model T Ford Chemical truck.

1921 – V12 Packard with 750 gpm. Pump (still in Hershey)

1929 – Selden 500 gpm. Pumper with 55 foot ladder.

1938 – International 500 gpm. 250 gal. Pumper, the 55 foot ladder was transferred from the Selden.

1947 – Mack 750 gpm. 300 gal. – Later increased in size to 600 gallon by members of the company (sold to the Prescott Fire Company and now owned by a collector in Holland)

1951 – International ¾ ton panel truck equipped as an emergency squad unit (given to Derry Township Police for use as a special service unit)

1956 – Oren 750 gpm. 1000 gallon Pumper (sold to the Coudersport, PA Fire Company)

1958 – Ford/Bruco rescue truck equipped to handle various emergencies and could carry four litter patients (sold to the Snowshoe, PA Fire Company)

1965 – International/Pierce 75 foot Snorkel with 750 gpm. Pump, the first true aerial apparatus (sold to the Washington, PA Fire Company)

1969 – Hahn 1000 gpm. 750 gal. Pumper – in 1982 the Pumper received a new diesel engine andother modifications at Swab Wagon Co. and was repainted lime-green and white from the original red. (Sold to a dealer in the South and is now in service with a Fire Co. in Alabama.)

1972 – Ford stake body unit with a 250 gallon skid load for brush fires. This replaced a 1964 International that had been used for a short time. A few years later the Ford chassis had a custom made body installed by Swab and painted lime-green and white from the original red. (Sold to the Powells Valley, PA Fire Company)

1973 – a 5 cfm. Ingersoll-Rand air compressor was installed in the firehouse with a four-bottle cascade to fill air cylinders.

1976 – Ford/Swab Heavy rescue truck, first unit be delivered in the lime-green and white paint scheme. (Sold to the Ottsville, PA Fire Company and now in service "somewhere in Mexico")

1978 – Hendrickson/Pirsh 1500 gpm. 750 gal. Pumper – rebuilt in 1988 by Swab with a four-door cab extension, 185-gallon foam tank and a foam system with a roof mounted turret (Sold to the Lebanon County Hazmat Team, PA) .

1978 – a 1971 Mack tractor with a 4200 gallon trailer was donated to the Fire Company by Hershey Foods Corp. It was rebuilt by members of the Company and served as a tanker for a few years and was then sold.

1980 – Hendrickson/Pierce 85 foot Snorkel with 1250 gpm, pump. (sold to Lykens, PA Fire Company)

1982 – Ford/Swab lighting and air unit. (sold to the Coudersport, PA Fire Company)

1986 – Spartan Gladiator/Pierce 2000 gpm, 1000 gal, tank, 100 gal, foam Pumper. Rehabbed in 1999. Taken out of service and sold to Fairview Twp in 2011.

1991 – Spartan Gladiator/Swab heavy Rescue truck.

1993 – Spartan Gladiator/Darley 2000 gpm, 750 gal, tank.

1994 – Ford F/350 series crew-cab pick-up

1995 – Duplex/Saulsbury/Baker 95 foot aerial platform.

1998 – 1998 Freightliner/S&S 750 gpm, 500 gal, tank 4X4 Pumper.

1999 - International/New Lexington air unit 33 cfm compressor & a 20 kW Generator.

2003 - Scotty RV Fire ReventionTrailer

2004 - GMC crew cab chassis with a Stahl body.

2006 - Seagrave Pumper

2007 - Pierce rehab of 1995 Truck

2011 - Pierce Pumper & Pierce Rescue

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