Settlement of the Landisburg Borough began in 1793. The town was Perry's first county seat and from earliest days it featured a list of schools, academies, and churches.
Historian Harry Hain records that about 1829 Landisburg formed a fire company and purchased a "hand engine." He states,"...the life of the company was short and the engine finally sold." Other than that succinct entry, nothing is known until December of 1948 when the current fire company began evolving.
A December 1948 discussion at the Landisburg VFW initiated an advertised meeting of citizens on 31 January 1949 in the high school auditorium. At that meeting, the Landisburg Fire Company was formed and monthly meetings decided upon G. Kenneth Rice was elected fire chief and at the February meeting Oscar Haines became the company's first president.
Three immediate problems faced the new fire company. A need for training was recognized, a necessity for apparatus and equipment to work with was obvious, and, of course, a home for the department was vital.
Training began immediately and in June a fire engine was selected. Costing $4,195, the one-ton Willys four-wheel drive truck with a front mounted 400 gpm pump, booster tank, booster hose, ladders, and all the accessories arrived on 26 July 1949. This engine, from W.S. Darley in Chicago, was to be the fire company's pumper, and a $5000 loan for it was negotiated with the Bank of Landisburg.
Also in July, construction of an engine house against the west side of the borough hall began with Lenus "Shelly" Wertz volunteering to lay the stone if his wife would relieve him of most of his postmaster duties. Florence agreed and Shelly began.
It is astonishing that a carnival was immediately planned for early September and that shortly thereafter $2000 was paid on the bank loan.
September was also the "Tanker month." A well used Ford truck was purchased for $75 and equipped with an 800 gallon tank donated by Donald E. Rice. Henry Brothers sprayed the vehicle fire-engine-red for $196.70. With two pieces of apparatus, a new engine house, and a dedicated membership, the Landisburg Fire Company was ready to function.
It is rarely rewarding to discuss a company's first fires but Landisburg's early efforts demonstrated abilities, showed service to the community, and offered certain deserved vindication.
Today, when every fire company boasts a tanker or two, it is difficult to imagine resistance to having a tank truck but in 1950, on viewing Landisburg's newly completed tanker, one county chief commented that it would be about as useful as a fifth wheel. At their third fire that chief was proven wrong.
In those days fire calls were received at the John Barkley store and the alarm was sounded via a hand cranked siren. On 16 January 1950, sixteen firefighters answered the company's first call. A 1937 Willys automobile owned by Amos Blumenschein near Little Germany was afire. The booster tank on the pumper and a fog nozzle quickly doused the blaze.
At 4:00am on 12 February the Joe Trostle home in Loysville caught fire and was rapidly extinguished, again using the fog nozzle and about 20 gallons from the pumper's booster tank.
On February 22nd, Mrs. R.J. McKibbin's home near Green Park became heavily involved. With the west end of the house afire from basement to attic, the dependable booster tank and fog nozzle went to work. Rather than laying hose to a distant creek and moving the pumper to it, the maligned tank truck was hooked to the pumper and a 1 1/2" hose with another fog nozzle attacked the attic portion of the fire. By the time the New Bloomfield company arrived to assist, the fire was under control and the tank truck had proven its usefulness.
During 1951 the borough hall was turned over to the fire department for the sum of $1. The hall had originally been a Presbyterian Church and later a school building. The firemen immediately added a storage room and planned further upgrading.
George Womer was the first appointed custodian. A new well was drilled at no charge by Golda Blosser, a new water system was installed by W. Reese Sunday, and a portico was added to the front of the building. The inside was refinished and the outside painted by J. Donald Lightner.
By 1957 the tank truck engine was deteriorating and needed replacement. A new truck was purchased from Sheaffer Chevrolet in Loysville for $2,112.41 and the water tank and all equipment remounted at the Blair Sheriff Garage. In February 1958 the old Ford was sold to Sheriff and Bell for $150. As the used truck had only cost $75 when the fire company bought it in 1949, the company made out pretty well.
The Landisburg department began a noteworthy service in 1960 that seems a bit unusual. They purchased a hospital bed and a wheelchair and made them available to any needy individual in the fire district.
Landisburg's first mention of a ladies auxiliary was in October 1959, further demonstration the new company's appreciation of the necessity to involve everyone possible. Card games, bingo, bake sales, donations (all the usual things), and of course the annual carnival were used to generate funds.
In 1962 a new Ford pumper was purchase for $15,000.
The fire company completed a new firehouse in April 1978. The building contained a meeting room and three good size vehicle bays. The firefighters accomplished most of the work themselves and held the cost to $70,000. Roy Chandler
John C. Spotts
John E. Johnson
Past Fire Chief's
G. Kenneth Rice
Melvin P. Sweger
Landisburg's First Fire Chief
Kenneth G. Rice
Landisburg's First President
Landisburg Vol. Fire Co.'s first firehouse
Landisburg's Old Engine House, now used as station 2 to store Brush 4 & Utility 4
Picture of the current firehouse taken in the early 1980's