In 1919, after fire destroyed a local dairy, the residents of the Village of Eden decided they needed their own fire company. Some residents gave money to help the fire company get started. Others donated their time to prepare for and respond to emergencies. Eden Fire Company No. 1 was officially chartered on September 24, 1921 and has been serving the Eden area for almost 80 years.
Our station is located at 1695 New Holland Pike, at the corner of New Holland Pike (State Route 23) and Eden Road. This has been our home since 1921, although the actual building has undergone several renovations and expansions.
We currently respond to over 1000 fire, rescue, and priority medical calls per year, making Eden one of the busiest volunteer fire company in Lancaster County. Our current front line apparatus consists of:
- Engine 204, a 2011 Pierce Arrow XT Pumper
- Truck 204, a 2006 Pierce Dash 100′ TDA
- Squad 204, a 2011 Ford F550 Mini-Rescue
In late 1919, a fire occurred at an abandoned dairy. Friends and neighbors came together to fight the fire. As they earnestly attempted to fight the fire using a makeshift bucket brigade, they found the fire too overwhelming and the structure was totally destroyed. The incident sparked concern over the vulnerability of the community to fire, and the residents discussed the need for a community fire company. By early 1920, a temporary organization was actively formed.
Organizers of the company, however, quickly found themselves with numerous obstacles. Just a few of the questions that needed to be answered were: Where would the fire company be located? Who will fight the fires? How and where can firefighting equipment be obtained? Because religious services or school classes were no longer held at the Eden Meetinghouse, the organizers found it to be the ideal location for the community fire company. Also because it was located in Eden Square in the central part of the community, it was a well-suited location for response.
Fire company organizers went door to door to get people to join. They solicited a large area and soon found themselves with a membership of nearly 75. The company, now with a headquarters and a firefighting force of 75 men, found themselves without any fire equipment. A special committee was established at a special community meeting to solicit subscriptions. The committee was off to a good start as several hundred dollars was collected during the meeting. The committee was chaired by William Symington. Other members included Walter R. Lapp, A. G. Sheaffer, William Fritz, Arthur Heller, Thomas Harnish, Elmer Lipp, C. J. Umble and Walter Heistand. They went door to door stressing the need and asking for donations to purchase a fire truck. They found generous contributions, and the company soon placed an order for a 1921 Model T Ford fire truck for $2,500.
The membership and community anxiously awaited the arrival of the fire truck they so very much needed and earned. The new truck was on its way by rail when word was received that the bank to which the fire company money was entrusted went under. As the bank went under, so did the fire truck as it was returned to its Ohio manufacturer.
The members were disappointed and frustrated, but not discouraged. The members banded together and organized a large social. A committee was established for this task and included chairman Miss J. Hazel Michael, Elvin Herr, Mrs. Isaac Rohrer, Mrs. Elizabeth Paxson, Bess Weaver, William Eckert and Elmer Lipp. Although skeptical about the social’s success, the members worked very hard and made unique efforts to attract attendance, including paying for the trolley fair from Lancaster City to the fire station grounds. After all of the expenses were paid, the company had made a profit of more than $3,300 which was more than enough to purchase the fire truck. And again the fire truck was on its way.
This temporary firefighting group was the first organized firefighting group in Manheim Township. After much work by John W. Esbenshade, William G. Fritz, H. Harold Sheaffer, Elam H. Herr and William B. Symington who subscribed for the charter, Eden Fire Company No. 1 was officially chartered on September 24, 1921.
-Excerpt from “Eden – a history of community” by Eric G. Bachman