I was reading a story about a run-of-the-mill (really, no pun intended) sawmill fire at an Amish business in Ohio the other day and I stumbled upon an interesting nugget of information. After studying Amish culture for so many years I'm still always learning. In Pennsylvania there is a rich tradition of Old Order Amish serving on fire companies. In fact, in some Lancaster County areas the fire companies are majority Amish with maybe a token non-Amish or two to drive the truck. This is not something I have observed elsewhere and now I think I know why. First, tradition does play a role in things like this. Something that "catches on" in one Amish area doesn't in another. But there is a more practical reason for why you may not see the Amish in Ohio serving on fire departments: state regulation.
When Aden Troyer's sawmill burnt down last week in Morrow County, many Amish swarmed to the scene to help firefighters who were on the scene. But they weren't there in an official capacity. Apparently the issue in Ohio is beards. Click here to read the full article. One does wonder if there are any religious exemptions, such as could a Muslim be a firefighter in Ohio or an Orthodox Jew?
LUMBERING IN AMISH COUNTRY: While are on the topic of sawmills, Farm and Dairy has an interesting article about the growing importance of forestry and wood as business for Amish in Holmes County, Ohio. Sounds like kind of a dry topic, but there are some neat interviews with Amish entrepreneurs in the article. Click here to read.