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Police seek hit-run vehicle that struck fire policeman in Upper Providence

A truck dumped a load of siding onto Bridge Street (Route 29) in Upper Providence Monday. A fire police officer at the scene was struck by a hit-and-run driver, according to police. Tom Kelly III — For Digial First Media

By Tony Phyrillas, The Mercury



Route 29 was closed for six hours Monday while police investigated two accidents, one of which injured a fire police officer.Tom Kelly III — For Digial First Media


UPPER PROVIDENCE >> A Phoenixville fire police officer was hit by a car while directing traffic at an accident scene on Bridge Street (Route 29) near Jacobs Street in Upper Providence Monday afternoon.

Fire police still at the crash scene said the volunteer was struck by a hit-run vehicle and was taken to Phoenixville Hospital with knee and Leg injuries. Upper Providence police say the initial accident happened around 11 a.m. when the driver of a flatbed tractor-trailer carrying a load of siding had to hit the brakes to avoid a collision with another truck going under the railroad bridge at the narrow curve in front of Black Rock Volunteer Fire Company.

The siding shifted off the skids, with some falling off the truck onto the roadway. Bridge Street is Route 29 in that area and the road was closed for more than six hours while police investigated and workers cleaned debris from the road.

Police at the scene said they were still looking for the the hit-run vehicle that struck the fire policeman.

Maine Fire Police Staff Resign Over Building Issue

Fire Police in Portland quit after council’s decision


MEGAN DOYLE, Portland Press Herald


Portland, Me. - Members of Westbrook's per diem fire/police and call team are resigning en masse because the City Council doesn't want to give them their own building.

Almost half of an on-call team in the Westbrook Fire Department has quit suddenly, a possible consequence of a rift between full-time and hourly personnel.

Fire Chief Andrew Turcotte confirmed four of the nine people in the fire/police division have resigned since last week. That group typically helps as needed with traffic control at the scene of car accidents, during bad weather or at parades. While the members usually respond from home, the division is allotted common space and equipment storage at the city's main public safety building.

The resignations followed a Westbrook City Council workshop last week, when Mayor Mike Sanphy proposed giving the fire/police division and the 13-person call company their own building.

"There's a great deal of dissatisfaction among the members of the call company and the fire/police with the current arrangement," City Administrator Jerre Bryant said at the meeting.

The new home proposed for the fire/police division and the call company is a former fire station at 41 Cumberland St. The property is owned by the Sappi paper mill, and it was given to the city to be used for municipal purposes. Fire crews moved out of that building when the existing public safety complex was built. It has since been used by the sewer department, which will soon move to the city's new public works building. If vacated, the property will return to Sappi.

Sanphy suggested moving the home base for on-call personnel and their equipment to the former fire station. The city does not yet have an estimate of the repairs needed for the groups to occupy the building, though Sanphy said members of the call companies offered to do the labor themselves or pursue grants to cover the cost.

But several councilors objected to the idea.

Councilor John O'Hara said the city asked residents to pay for construction of a public safety building so Westbrook's public safety services could come under one roof.

"I am in no way supporting the idea of opening another station at 41 Cumberland St.," he said. "I don't want to spend one more dime down there. It's time to get out and shut the door and don't look back."

Attempts to reach the members of the fire/police division were not successful Thursday. A public records request for copies of the resignation letters has not yet been fulfilled. The mayor was in the call company until 2003 but declined to detail the causes of dissatisfaction for his former group.

"I feel kind of sad that it's gone to where it's gone, but I can't speak for the individuals," he said.

Turcotte said he has met with two of the four people who resigned.

"The two that I had a chance to meet with post-resignation stated they were leaving because they just didn't have enough time to commit to the agency," Turcotte wrote in an email Thursday. "Both of these individuals had been talking about leaving for many months."

Turcotte said the department will work to fill the newly vacant positions. Members of the fire/police division are paid between $10 and $12.28 per hour.

"These resignations will not disrupt the department's ability to respond to emergency calls for services or impact our delivery of those services to the community," he said.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: Twitter: megan_e_doyle police volunteer hit by car while directing traffic

Fire police volunteer hit by car while directing traffic

May 1, 2017

By Cristina Rojas,


BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP -- A fire police volunteer was hit by a car Sunday while helping to direct traffic away from downed utility lines, police said.

Stephen Ermi, 59, of Bordentown, was standing by his car on Route 130 and Rising Sun Road around 4:20 p.m. directing traffic from an earlier crash when a 2014 Toyota Scion drove through the cones and hit him, police said.

The driver was 21-year-old Warren Chong, of Mount Holly, and police say driver inattention appears to be to blame.

Chong has not been charged yet, but motor vehicle summonses will likely be issued once the investigation is complete, police said.

Ermi was wearing a fluorescent traffic safety vest and his car's flashing emergency lights were on, police said.

He sustained a left shoulder fracture and broken toe and is in stable condition.

About 20 minutes before Ermi was hit, a 2001 Nissan Maxima struck a utility pole off the highway's shoulder near Taconic Road, police said.

The crash resulted in downed power and cable lines across both the northbound and southbound lanes and police had to shut down a portion of the highway and several other side streets until the necessary repairs were made to the pole.

The pedestrian collision remains under investigation and any witnesses are asked to call 609-298-4300, ext. 2136.


Carlisle fire police faced many challenges at former Lear Corp. plant fire

  • By Naomi Creason, Sentinel Reporter

  • May 5, 2012​

Fire fighters from as far as Harrisburg respond to the former Leer Corporation building in Carlisle on Wendsday night as a massive fire ripped through the complex.


Jason Malmont/The Sentinel


There are the men and women fighting the fires and the people looking on as the disaster unfolds.

Then you have the volunteers stuck in the middle who try to protect both the first responders and those bystanders.

Fire police consist of an all-volunteer staff who are mostly seen blocking off streets and directing traffic around crashes and fires. Sometimes they help manage intersections when traffic lights aren’t working.

And then there are fires like the one at the former Lear Corp. complex Wednesday night when area fire police were put into a much more difficult situation to control.

Bob Wertz, the captain of the Carlisle Special Fire Police, was heading to bed Wednesday night when he got the fire call. Like many other fire police personnel who responded to the fire that night, he ended up staying up through the night and early morning before heading out to work Thursday – foregoing any sleep. And while the lack of rest finally caught up to him Thursday night, being tired was just a minor issue compared to the problems Wertz said he faced while trying to help contain the area around the Lear Corp. complex.

He and other fire police crews were concerned about keeping everyone safe – even if the crowds weren’t as keen on that idea.

“First, we had to shut down the streets that were involved,” Wertz said. “After we got the perimeter set up, we got started with crowd control. It’s hard work because people don’t want to move back. They just want to get as close as they can. We can only advise them to move back.”

Because of the square-footage of the fire, the 25 to 30 fire police who were on the scene had their hands full with wrangling the residents not involved in the fire.

“It was a big area – about several city blocks worth,” said John Bruetsch, Cumberland County Public Information Officer. “People are also pretty innovative in getting through. They had their hands full, and that’s why they had to call in more fire police.”

Wertz said they had a number of streets closed off in the area, some of which were shut down because of hose equipment used to bring in water from other areas to help battle the blaze.

In those instances, Wertz said fire police tried to keep people away from potentially impeding what the firefighters were trying to do.

But more than anything, fire police focus on the safety of everyone at a fire or crash.

“Getting the traffic away is for the safety of the firefighters,” he said. “They’re moving around and concentrating on the fire or injured person. It’s our job to make it easier on them. (For the crowds) we’re doing it for their own interest, and not because we’re trying to be nasty. You don’t know what’s going to happen, and (at Lear) you have these explosions. Firefighters were told not to go in. We just want to keep people at a safe distance. I didn’t want to go in there – I wanted to move back. There are hazardous materials in that smoke. You don’t want to breathe that in. There were times when I was choking on it.”

Keeping people at a safe distance is usually easier in other situations, Wertz added.

“A lot of the time at house fires, we’re using police tape and taping off the area,” he said. “We used some of that, but there was so much to be done (at Lear). On a fire like that, you do the best you can with what you have.”

Luckily for Wertz, he had a backup to help out with street closures and crowd control.

“We had a good response,” he said. “Other fire police and traffic units besides ours showed up. We had fire police from North Middleton, Mt. Holly and even as far away as Newville. Traffic units also arrived from New Kingstown and Silver Spring.

“I want to thank the fire police that came out to do the job that day,” Wertz said. “I very much appreciated the help, not only from Carlisle but also from outside the area. They were willing to help. They asked what they could do, how can they help. Everybody was very supportive.”

The combined effort from crews around the county was effective in doing what they set out to do – keep people safe.

“They did a good job because nobody was injured,” Bruetsch said.

Hempfield fire police out of line 

  • May 21, 2010

To the Editors:

Recently, on the way to my daughter's soccer game in East Petersburg, I was stopped by the Hempfield Fire Police as I waited to turn left into the Fulton Bank lot.

As I was running a little behind and I did not realize that a tournament was going on, I told my daughter to hop out, and I would meet her on the field. It was very safe, and I had been at a complete stop for a few minutes.

When I was finally signaled to go, I was surprised to see that I was being directed to go straight when I clearly had my left turn signal on. I rolled down my window and was told I could not park in the Fulton lot. I asked where we were supposed to park for soccer and was told to try East Petersburg Elementary School.

Upon arriving at the school, I noticed at least a dozen signs indicating that soccer participants should park in the Fulton lot and not at the school.

Confused and not understanding why I was turned away, I went back to the Fulton lot and approached from the other side, I was allowed to turn in and park.

It all became clear as I was walking to the field and overheard the fire police talking to each other. They were targeting any car that dropped someone off and they would not let them into the lot.

I did not see any signs indicating that this was not allowed. I was pretty steamed and when I finally made it the game, I encountered many others who had been harassed by fire police and they were steamed, as well.

After the game, while walking back to the lot, I and many others witnessed the fire police yelling at an elderly gentleman. We thought for sure it was going to get physical.

I am not sure what this man's infraction was, but it appeared he tried to cross on the "wrong side" of the street.

These men were out of line, rude and unprofessional. The actions of a few will reflect poorly on all of the Hempfield Fire Police.

Sadly, many children were witness to their behavior.

Sue Boyd

East Hempfield Township


Middlesex Township questions need for fire police traffic unit


Middlesex Township supervisors are questioning both the wisdom and price tag of one example of regional cooperation proposed by Carlisle Borough.

The borough recently asked Middlesex and other neighboring townships to contribute a total of $22,500 towards the purchase of a $115,000 traffic vehicle for the Carlisle Special Fire Police.

Borough Manager Steve Hietsch told council Tuesday the balance of the vehicle costs could be purchased using a $75,000 grant, $10,000 from Carlisle fireman’s relief fund and $7,500 from the borough general fund.

Supervisors Donald Geistwhite Jr. and Victor Stabile recently voiced opposition to a borough request for $7,500, saying the vehicle is an unnecessary luxury taxpayers cannot afford during the current economic downturn.

“What are you thinking?” Geistwhite asked the borough. “Aren’t you paying attention to the news? It takes a lot of nerve to ask for a $115,000 vehicle to carry traffic cones and directional signs.”

Stabile did not understand the need for the vehicle when both the borough and a few townships have police departments and fire police fully capable of directing traffic.

“This vehicle is on the top of my list for a cut,” Stabile said. “I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of the borough budget, but we’ve stretched our budget and contributed as much as we can.

“We have to start thinking about what is essential, not what is nice to have,” Stabile added. “Carlisle is one of four fire departments that service Middlesex. We need to look at it in that light.”

Stabile said he would rather cut “bricks and mortar” than risk placing an added burden on taxpayers or cutting back township staff.

Councilman William Kronenberg is chairman of the borough public safety committee. “We feel the vehicle is necessary,” he said. “If Middlesex doesn’t want to participate, they don’t get to use it. Emergency services are not going to be free anymore.”

Borough staff have structured parts of the proposed 2009 budget on a strategy of cost controls on public safety expenses and on a stronger focus on regional cooperation.

“This must eventually include sharing of expenses in areas where the borough is subsidizing its neighbors,” Hietsch said. “The fates of all Carlisle-area municipalities are tied together.”

The borough continues to work towards regional cooperation through participation in the Regional Emergency Services Task Force. Carlisle plans to enter into talks soon with Mt. Holly Borough, South Middleton Township and Dickinson Township about developing a regional fire department to provide more cost effective fire protection.

Kronenberg said the borough pays close to $1 million each year for emergency services — some of which goes toward subsidizing services outside borough limits.

For example, the Union Fire Company obtains financial support for its operation by providing contracted services to the townships, Hietsch said. “However, the price per call being charged to the townships is significantly less than the price per call being paid by the borough to Union.”

Hietsch explained how the 2009 budget calls for an increase in the borough appropriation to Union Fire Company from $130,560 to $150,000 to reduce its reliance on township funding and to give the company more freedom to negotiate a fairer price for its contracts.

“The townships have to step up and pay their share if they want the use of the services,” Kronenberg said.

Stabile said he is more inclined to support a program of sharing standardized emergency equipment than granting a borough request for a fire police traffic unit.

In January, Carlisle Special Fire Police approached council with a request to replace the 1983 ambulance they currently use for emergency response. That vehicle has more than 200,000 miles on it, not including engine wear and tear due to prolonged periods of idling.

Fire police officer Scott Thomas said the systems on the ambulance are so old and worn out, drivers have to shut off the headlights when the warning lights are on or risk a total system shutdown and drained battery.

Thomas explained the ambulance is no longer used on highway calls out of concern the vehicle may stall just as the state police and other responders are working to clear a scene and reopen lanes.

They feel a new vehicle is needed to supply fire police officers who can be on duty for hours on end with no food or water. Use of their own vehicles is not always safe.

The original proposal was for a $160,000 vehicle complete with warning lights, reflective surfaces, storage space for signs and traffic cones and an electronic arrow and light display to guide traffic around an emergency scene. Fire Police Co. Quits Over Red Lights

Pa. Fire Police Co. Quits Over Red Lights

NOVEMBER 11, 2002



KUTZTOWN, Pa. -- All 11 members of the Kutztown fire police submitted resignations after their lieutenant was barred from using a flashing red light and siren on his vehicle.

Fire police volunteers said Kutztown Fire Company Chief Robert Hauck refused to allow newly appointed Lt. Gregory Heid to use the red light and siren, which indicates an emergency vehicle.

The fire police, who assist with traffic and crowd control at emergencies and special events, said they have been treated poorly by Hauck and other Kutztown firefighters for years.

"There have been instances when people felt slighted, ridiculed," said Dick Diehm, fire police captain. "I just got to the point where my head is softer than a brick wall."

Fire police respond to fires, accidents and other calls for service in the borough and surrounding municipalities served by the volunteer fire company. Their responsibilities generally focus on directing traffic around incidents.

Fire police are part of the fire company, but under command of police when they are working.

The disgruntled Kutztown fire police have already ceased answering fire and accident calls, but they will respond to police requests for assistance at events through Nov. 30.

"We volunteer," said Carol A. Fegely, a fire police member for 11/2 years. "But we didn't volunteer for the harassment and the abuse. He (Hauck) is rude. "

Hauck said that he believed the fire police quit for the wrong reasons and that a compromise could have been worked out.

"This will affect the company, and this will affect service in the police department at accidents and so forth," Hauck said of the resignations. "At this point in time, the fire company . . . is going to have to take care of the situations."

Additional fire personnel will be sent to each emergency to substitute for the fire police, Hauck said.

According to Diehm, a fire police captain and lieutenant are permitted by law to drive emergency vehicles with flashing red lights and sirens.

But Hauck said he has the authority to determine who uses a red light, and he claimed that the fire police misinterpreted the law. Diehm is the only fire police officer who has a red light on his vehicle.

According to Diehm, Hauck appointed Heid to the newly created lieutenant post, but the chief would not allow Heid to use a red light.

Hauck claimed that Heid drove too fast, Diehm said. Instead Heid has to use a blue light, which does not command the same respect on the road and does not give the driver the right to travel through red traffic signals.

Hauck would not comment on the details of the dispute.

Diehm stressed that the mass resignation was not a ploy to gain an advantage in the argument.

"All of us feel kind of bad about making this move," he said of the fire police. "There's a certain amount of satisfaction you get out of serving the public, but there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough."

Other fire police said that the only thing that would convince them to return to their positions would be Hauck's resignation and the appointment of a new fire chief.

"There's a joke going around that fire police are second-class citizens," Heid said. "We're not firefighters. We're only fire police."

But the fire police said they deserve better.

Most of them have served Kutztown for more than a decade, and four members have about 20 years of service. Many of them have logged more than 100 hours of training.

Kutztown police Chief Theodore R. Cole said he has recommended that borough council's personnel committee hire the fire police as community police officers.

"I am attempting to take the steps necessary to provide the services that we've always had," Cole said.

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