On February 9th, 1920, the citizens of the Village of Rheems met in Grove’s Machine Shop to discuss the issue of Fire Protection. Many residents attended and a committee was assembled to raise funds to purchase a chemical apparatus. A.S Bard, B. Frank Shank, and S. S. Shearer were appointed to that committee. On February 17th, the citizens of the Village of Rheems again met, this time at the home of H. K. Landis, to hear the report from the committee. It was at this time that the citizens of Rheems decided to form the Rheems Fire and Improvement Association. B. H. Greider was appointed to the position of President, B. Frank Shank appointed as Secretary and S. S. Kraybill appointed as Treasurer.
On March 4th, 1920, the Rheems Fire and Improvement Association met with a representative from the Buffalo Chemical Company of Buffalo N.Y. After much discussion, they voted to purchase a Buffalo #80 60 Gallon Chemical Engine with full supplies for $500.00.
On March 9th, 1920 the Rheems Fire and Improvement Association met for the purpose of electing a Fire Chief. They nominated Phares Grove, N. N. Greiner and B. Frank Shank for the position. Each received a total of 6 votes and it was moved by the body that they should decide among themselves who the Fire Chief, First Assistant Chief, and Second Assistant Chief were to be. They decided that Phares Grove would be the First Fire Chief, B. Frank Shank First Assistant Chief, and N. N. Greiner Second Assistant Chief.
The next topic at the meeting pertained to the formation of the Rheems Water Company. Members questioned if the citizens would be interested in buying stock of the water company. At the next meeting, a report was read that 39 citizens wished to purchase stock in the Rheems Water Company.
On April 3rd, the Buffalo Chemical Engine was delivered and was housed in a building owned by B. Frank Shank. The Pennsylvania Rail Road donated steel for the first Fire Gong to be constructed to alert citizens to a fire.
On April 22nd, 1920 the Association voted to purchase a 16ft straight ladder and a 32ft extension ladder from Horst Bros. of Philadelphia. On this date, a motion was made for the President to form a Code of By-Laws within which to operate.
November 18th, 1920. The first system of rings was developed to alert citizens of a fire. A General Alarm followed by 2 rings signaled for the East end of town. A General Alarm followed by 3 rings signaled the West end of town.
On Wednesday, August 17th, 1921 at 5:00 PM, the fire gong sounded for a fire in one of John Hipple’s wheat stacks. 10 minutes later the chemical engine was on scene and held the fire. 20 minutes later the volunteers from Mount Joy arrived and assisted until 11:00 PM. Rheems members stayed on the scene until 4:00 AM. In total, 4 60 Gallon Tanks of fluid were used on the fire.
In 1927, the Rheems Fire and Improvement Association deemed it necessary to construct and Engine House to House the 1920 Buffalo Chemical Engine. The original firehouse was located on Lime Street in the village of Rheems. It is still standing today and is the centerpiece of our official Department Patch.