The Berkeley Hills Fire Company lost a beloved leader recently with the passing of Chief Emeritus John C. Haschke.
Although he officially retired in 1986, he continued to serve as a mentor to younger firefighters, a trusted advisor to current company officers, and also contributed to several committees, according to the fire company's website tribute.
Haschke was always on the cutting edge of technology, working to make firefighting safer and more efficient as well as seeking to increase community safety standards, according to a gentleman at the station who preferred to remain anonymous. He gave one example of how Haschke pioneered the switch to using a 5-inch supply hose instead of a 3-inch size when connecting a fire hydrant to the fire engine, substantially increasing the water flow rate.
In Haschke's classified obituary in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Fire Company President Jeffrey Carpenter praised Haschke for his groundbreaking work in the 1960's to adopt and improve building standards. That work included things like smoke detectors and sprinklers in buildings way before they were the standard.
Officially, Haschke spent 38 years with the Berkeley Hills Fire Department, 32 of it as fire chief. In total, more than 60 years of his life was dedicated to serving the people of Ross Township if you count his years of involvement after retirement.
His daughter, Terry L. Studenny of Broken Arrow, OK paid tribute to him in his Tribune-Review obituary saying, "His boots were always at the ready by the front door so when that siren went off he just had to run down the hall, put on those boots, pull the suspenders up and (go) out the door." She added, “My mom remembers my dad carrying a man down from the second floor on the outside ladder and saving his life.”
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Marian, son Brian of Gibsonia and two grandchildren. Haschke was preceded in death by a son, John.
In addition, Haschke was a decorated WWII Army platoon sergeant. He fought with the 102nd Infantry Division across Central Europe and was awarded two Bronze Stars.
After the military, Haschke met his wife Marian at what was then called Muskingum College in Ohio. In addition to being a firefighter, Haschke was an assistant vice president of the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Pittsburgh.
Funeral services and internment were private.