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Thread: Fire Scene Accident Claims Pennsylvania Firefighter

  1. #1
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    Jan 2002

    Fire Scene Accident Claims Pennsylvania Firefighter

    Fire Scene Accident Claims Pennsylvania Firefighter

    Updated: 12-08-2004 09:26:22 AM

    Firehouse.Com News

    Longtime fire service veteran Jackson Gerhart is being mourned by firefighters throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington D.C. after dying from a fatal head injury sustained at the scene of a house fire.

    Gerhart, 65, became a volunteer firefighter in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania in the 1950s, said Chambersburg Emergency Services Chief John Vanlandingham. He later became a career firefighter in Chambersburg and then in Washington D.C.

    Gerhart also served as Deputy Chief at the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Maryland. He joined the HVFD in 1963 and became Deputy Chief in 1966, remained an officer until 1969, and a member into the 70's.

    Gerhart retired after about 30 years in the fire service, but continued to volunteer in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania at the West End Fire and Rescue Co.

    Vanlandingham said he will be especially remembered for serving as a mentor to many young firefighters and assisting them in their careers. He was well-known throughout the Pennsylvania, Maryland and D.C. area.

    "He committed his life to the fire service and helped countless people within the fire service," the chief said. "He will be missed by a great number of people."

    Gerhart was also a fire history buff and a collector of fire equipment and memorabilia, Vanlandingham said. He is survived by his wife and daughter.

    Gerhart was injured on Tuesday, November 30 after he responded in his personal vehicle to assist the Chambersburg Fire Department, the chief said.

    The department was dispatched to a house fire at 10:06 a.m. When the engine arrived on scene at 10:09 a.m. Gerhart assisted by advancing the five inch supply line to a hydrant. He was on street level when he fell and struck his head on the pavement and sustained a brain injury, Vanlandingham said. It was undetermined whether Gerhart collapsed as the result of a medical condition, or slipped and fell in the process of pulling the hose and walking backward.

    Vanlandingham said he rendered aid to Gerhart while the engine crews continued to operate the house fire. Gerhart was transported to Chambersburg Hospital and then flown to York Trauma Center, where he was was on life support until the evening of Sunday, December 5th.

    Shippensburg Fire Chief Jamie White said Gerhart will be extremely missed.

    "The 5th of December was a sad day for the fire service," he said. "Jack dedicated his life to the fire service, his friends and his family. We express our condolences to his family, and thank them for letting him be a part of our family as well as theirs. He will live forever in our hearts."

    Funeral Information

    Visitation will be Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Fogelsanger-Bricker Funeral Home Inc., 112 West King Street, Shippensburg. There will not be a viewing or visitation at church on Thursday.

    Funeral services will be held Thursday, December 9, 1 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, Chambersburg. Officiating will be The Rev. John J. Dromazos and The Rev. Dianne B. Salter.

    Burial will be in the Norland Cemetery, Chambersburg.

    Memorial contributions may be made to the Chambersburg Fire Department Museum, 550 Broad Street, Chambersburg, PA 17201.

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    Fireman stricken at fire

    Volunteer hospitalized in serious condition

    Staff writer

    Public Opinion/Markell DeLoatch

    A 65-year-old volunteer firefighter was injured Tuesday as crews battled a fire at 541 E. Washington St.

    According to Chambersburg Fire Department Chief John Vanlandingham, Jackson Gerhart may have slipped and fallen from a truck, or may have had medical problems that caused him to fall from a truck.

    Gerhart, who was in intensive care this morning at York Hospital, is a member of West End Fire and Rescue in Shippensburg, and a retired Washington, D.C., firefighter. He was responding to the fire with other volunteer members of the Junior Hose and Truck Company, part of Chambersburg Fire Department.

    Fire crews responded to the residence at 10:06 a.m. after a neighbor at 540 E. Washington St., reported heavy smoke coming from across the street.

    "We believe it was accidental, caused by an iron left on inside the residence," Vanlandingham said. "No one was at home at the time of the fire."

    Vanlandingham said that crews extinguished the blaze at its point of origin -- on the second floor in a spare bedroom.

    Although there was no structural damage to the residence, fire officials estimated damages at $10,000.

    Responding to the fire were the Chambersburg Fire Department, Franklin Volunteer Fire Department, Letterkenny Army Depot Fire Department, New Franklin Fire Department, Fayetteville Fire Department and St. Thomas Township Fire Department.

    Originally published Wednesday, December 1, 2004

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    Final farewell: 'Dedicated' firefighter laid to rest

    Staff writer

    Jackson Gerhart's beloved Engine 17, which he spent many of his 32 years driving as a career firefighter with the District of Columbia Fire Department, carried him home on a rainy Thursday afternoon.

    The engine was joined by scores of other fire and emergency apparatus in a somber procession to Norland Cemetery, where Gerhart was laid to rest after his funeral at First United Methodist Church in downtown Chambersburg.

    Gerhart, of Shippensburg, died Sunday from injuries he sustained when he fell off a fire truck at a Nov. 30 house fire in Chambersburg. His death was attributed to blunt force trauma.

    An estimated 900 to 1,000 people came to Gerhart's funeral to pay their respects, including firefighters from Chambersburg, Shippensburg and Washington, D.C., where he spent all of his 32-year career with Engine Co. 17.

    Gerhart's dedication to the fire service and his many acts of kindness shone through in the words of those who knew and worked alongside him.

    "Jack Gerhart laid down his life as he lived it -- serving others," said Ken Cox, a retired official with the union representing career members of the Washington fire department. "And we've all been better for it."

    Thomas Tippett, a retired Washington fire chief who served with Gerhart in the 1970s and '80s, said he worked with many firefighters over the years, "but I can honestly say I don't think there was ever one better."

    "He'll never be forgotten and he'll never be replaced by any of us," Tippett said.

    Jamie White, chief of the Shippensburg Fire Department where Gerhart was a volunteer until his death, said Gerhart had been a mentor since he was a teenager.

    "I loved to see Jack in his uniform," said White, fighting back tears. "You could just tell you were looking at a legend."

    Then, speaking directly to Gerhart, White said a heartfelt good-bye.

    "We will miss you, your conversation and your smile," White said. "So my friend, as you walk up that last set of stairs, let me say good night, rest in peace."

    "Fireman Jack," as he was known, was a powerful influence on many of those in the fire service throughout the Franklin County area and suburban Washington. He did his job with distinction and encouraged and nurtured young firefighters, according to his colleagues.

    "He was a good guy. He cared about everyone and took time to show everyone everything about the firetrucks and the job," said Scott Kitner, an honorary pallbearer. "When it came to fire details, he was always willing to teach you."

    Just how many lives he touched in his 65 years, 1 month and 6 days on Earth was evident at York Hospital on the day he died, according to Cox. He said a steady stream of firefighters made trips to the hospital trauma center that day to visit Gerhart and his family.

    "We had come from near and far to York Hospital because a member of our family was hurting," said Cox, who described Sunday as one of the saddest days of his life.

    Retired for 10 years, the 65-year-old Gerhart didn't have to respond to the Chambersburg fire -- he wanted to because he wanted to help. That's the kind of man he was, according to those who knew him.

    "Knowing Jack as I did, I'm sure he was proud doing what he loved his entire life," said James Martin, assistant chief of the District of Columbia Fire Department. "The department is a better place because of him."

    At the funeral, Gerhart also was remembered as a husband, father, son and committed church-goer and Christian. He is survived by his mother, Janet Huber Gerhart; his wife of 43 years, Patricia Shank Gerhart; a daughter, Susan Gerhart and a brother, Charles H. Gerhart.

    Scores of firefighters in the dress uniforms and white gloves filled the First United Methodist Church sanctuary.

    As part of the service, at the request of Gerhart's wife because of the season, mourners sang three of Gerhart's favorite Christmas carols, "Joy to the World," "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" and "Silent Night."

    The service opened and closed with the melancholy strains of a bagpipe, which played as firefighters stood outside in the rain and saluted while Gerhart's casket was carried from the church and placed on Engine 17.

    Gerhart's family has asked that memorial contributions be made to the Chambersburg Fire Department Museum, 550 Broad St., Chambersburg, Pa. 17201.

    Originally published Friday, December 10, 2004

  4. #4
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    Gerhart, Jackson Huber "Jack"

    Age: 65
    Cause of Death: Fall
    Rank: Firefighter
    Nature of Death: Trauma
    Classification: Volunteer
    Emergency Duty: Yes

    Incident Date: 11/30/2004
    Duty Type: On-Scene Fire
    Incident Time: 10:09
    Activity Type: Water Supply
    Death Date: 12/05/2004
    Fixed Prop. Use: Residential

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Chambersburg Fire Department
    130 North Second Street
    Chambersburg , Pennsylvania 17201
    Chief: John Vanlandingham

    Final Summary:
    Firefighter Gerhart and the members of his fire department were dispatched to a fire in a residence. Heavy smoke was showing as Firefighter Gerhart arrived in his personal vehicle before responding fire apparatus. Firefighter Gerhart, knowing the route that responding fire apparatus would take to the scene, stood at a fire hydrant awaiting the arrival of the first-due engine company. When the engine arrived, Firefighter Gerhart motioned to the driver and indicated that he would advance the supply line to the hydrant. Firefighter Gerhart mounted the back step of the apparatus and grabbed a 5-inch supply line. He fell backwards, still holding the hose, and struck the ground. The driver of the engine, not seeing Firefighter Gerhart advancing the line to the hydrant, got out of the engine to investigate. He found Firefighter Gerhart on his back and unconscious. Firefighters came to the aid of Firefighter Gerhart. He was able to open his eyes but did not speak. He was transported by ambulance to a local hospital and then transferred by helicopter to a regional hospital. Firefighter Gerhart remained in a coma until his death on December 5, 2004. The cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma to the head as a result of the fall. Firefighter Gerhart was a life member of the Junior Hose and Truck Company, a volunteer company that is a part of the Chambersburg Fire Department, and had a 32-year career with the District of Columbia Fire Department and the International Association of Fire Fighters.

    Memorial Fund Info:
    Memorial contributions may be made to the Chambersburg Fire Department Museum, 550 Broad Street, Chambersburg, PA 17201.

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