Jul 02

Remembering Chief James Cutchall


Chief James Cutchall responded to the July 2, 1977 fire alarm as he had a hundred times before, arriving on the scene first to direct incoming fire apparatus from the Fayetteville, Pennsylvania Volunteer Fire Department.

Within minutes, the 33-year-old Chief lay mortally wounded from a sniper’s bullet, shot even as he radioed the Franklin County Communications Center with an initial report of a working fire and injured civilian.

Wagon 7-1, Fayetteville’s first due engine, followed Chief Cutchall up the dirt road leading to the burning cabin and was greeted by a barrage of bullets which pierced the windshield and cab, wounding the driver, Deputy Chief Robert Monn, and 18-year-old firefighter Scott Riechenbach as they raced for cover.

One of the men on board wagon 7-1 shouted “the Chief’s down” and several firefighters ran through the continuing gunfire to drag Chief Cutchall to safety and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. A Fayetteville Volunteer Fire Department ambulance rushed him to the hospital as the EMT-A’s continued resuscitation techniques. However, Chief Cutchall died at the hospital.

So unfolded the tragic, untimely death of a man described by one of his peers as “one of the most outstanding fire chiefs in the nation”. Close personal and professional friend Donald D. Flinn, General Manager of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, described Cutchall’s department programs as “model for the volunteer service”.

Crawford Wiestling, former chief of the neighboring Shippensburg West End Fire and Rescue Company, and the man who assumed command of the scene after Cutchall’s injury, explained, “he lived, breathed, slept and ate firefighting”.

Chief Wiestling perhaps described Cutchall best with these words: “He would refuse to sit still. He always wanted new ideas. Stagnation meant defeat to him. He would refuse to pause or say, ‘I’ve done my job’. He always used one saying in his speeches: ‘To be a volunteer firefighter and make an error is human, to be a volunteer firefighter and worry about those errors is compassion, to be a volunteer firefighter and do something about those errors is professionalism.’”

Under Cutchall’s four year reign as Chief, the Fayetteville Volunteer Fire Department became the first volunteer company within the region to adopt documented training standards, initiate a “bunk-in” program to assure immediate nighttime response, develop extensive pre-planning procedures for its 25-square mile first due area, and use modern, diesel-powered apparatus painted high visibility lime yellow. A capital improvements program, including the addition of five pieces of apparatus and a $150,000 building renovation, also was completed.

Women have assumed an important role within the Department riding fire, rescue and ambulance vehicles as active members. Junior membership and scholarship programs begun by Cutchall have provided a training ground for future firefighters. Many of these programs were outlined by the Chief in an article appearing in the July 1976 issue of Fire Command entitled “Volunteers Surviving in the 70’s”.

In 1975, alarmed by the lack of adequate ambulance service in Fayetteville, the Chief purchased two ambulances and manned them with EMT-As trained in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The Fayetteville Volunteer Fire Department ambulance service was the first in the State to be certified under recent State regulations governing training, manpower and equipment. Plans also were initiated by Cutchall to provide advanced life support to his community within the next year.

On July 6, 1977 the final tribute was paid to James C. Cutchall in a style never before experienced in central Pennsylvania. Firefighters and 80 pieces of apparatus from 60 fire companies in six states lined both sides of Lincoln Way in Chambersburg for the mile-long procession to Lincoln Cemetery where the Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and Halfway, Maryland aerial towers formed an arch draped in black. The casket, carried in the red velvet hose bed of Engine 7-1, was followed by more than 2,500 uniformed firefighters who, along with friends, slowly moved toward the cemetery in sweltering 100-degree heat.

Some of the mourners present included Don Flinn, IAFC, Chief Burton Johnson, District of Columbia Fire Department, Chief Robert Little, Director, Eastern Division, along with representatives of the University of Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute and members of the Pennsylvania State Legislature and Pennsylvania State Police.

Normally I would not use something that someone else wrote for my site but this is a rare case. The two men that wrote the article on Chief Cutchall were best of friends with him; they too were dedicated to the fire service and its betterment. In later years they both gave their lives in the line of duty also. This entry is a tribute to all three men.

~Story borrowed written by unknown Author~

Jun 28

Exterior Firefighter Program

Today started Course 3 of 4 for the Firefighter I program being hosted by Buchanan Valley FD. BVFD Firefighters along with several neighboring Departments began the Exterior Firefighter portion of the Firefighter I courses. A lot of hard work has been put in on evenings and weekends as these firefighters develop their skills per the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy. Today students worked on efficiency and speed of donning their PPE and SCBA. They also completed their “Metro” walk which involved working courses until they completely consumed their air cylinder. Great Job to all the students and Instructors R. Lewis and D. Baker

Jun 25

July Seafood Feast

IMG_1908Our next Seafood Feast is July 11th. All you can eat Crab Legs, Steamed Shrimp, Fried Shrimp, Fried Clams, 2 Soups, Broasted Chicken, Homemade Buffet Items, Dessert and Refreshments for $30! This is the one you have heard about. Tickets are selling fast. Please call today to get your tickets reserved, 717-677-9234 Ext4 or 717-677-0870. Like all other BVFD Events, this is a Family Event for all ages. #BVFD27

Jun 15

Over the Mountain and through Franklin County…to the Barn Fire we go !

Barn Fire

Yesterday Afternoon Engine Tanker 27 was alerted to Edenville Cheesetown Road in St Thomas Township, Franklin County to assist on a Barn Fire. Several Fire Departments from Franklin, Cumberland, Adams and Washington County Md operated on this large barn fire. ET27 hauled several loads of water to assist. For additional photos of the incident check out Curtis Bryan’s photo gallery



Jun 12

Exterior Firefighter Program Announced

Today we are announcing the next in the series of Firefighting Training being offered at BVFD.  Exterior Firefighter (Mod C) is the next Class and it starts on June 28th.  BVFD is offering this Training at NO COST to the student and we also supply lunch each day for students.  If you have any questions on this training or would like to get signed up, please email Chief Spielman.  Below is the flier showing all Class dates and other information on the class.  #BVFD27  #Trainingthefuture

Jun 11

Wagon on the Box, Pumper on the WFD

Last night around 9:30, Engine Tanker 27 was alerted for the house on fire on Clubhouse Drive (FL5-01).  The Wagon was on the street at dispatch with 6.  Franklin 5 arrived with a basement fire.  ET-27 arrived and was assigned Vent, crews set up PPV and assisted with opening up..  Engine 27 was alerted and responded on the WFD, after arriving on the scene they were placed in service.  Total BVFD staffing was 13.



Jun 06

Gun & Cash Bash Winning Numbers

UntitledThanks to ALL who supported the Buchanan Valley & New Franklin Fire Departments on their 1st combined fundraising event. The event was very successful and ALL tickets for this event were sold. Once again we wanted to take the time to Thank all of our friends who came out and supported the BVFD & NFVFD. The next joint event is in September and information is posted on our website.

Jun 04

Congratulations Class of 2015

2014 Fire Prevention Franklin 004

The Officers of Buchanan Valley FD would like to Congratulate Members; Colton McClarin, Tyler Moritz, and Marissa Brasee who will be graduating from Gettysburg High School this evening at 7pm. We wish you the VeryBest and are Extremely Proud of each one of you !

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