Governments' Lighter Side

Playing with fire

Where there's smoke, there's fire... unless you're a new firefighter using smoke and mirrors to enjoy the thrill of riding in a fire truck.

Four Pennsylvania firefighters are facing charges after calling in fake emergencies to a police department so they could take joyrides in the station's trucks, according to the Associated Press.

No, really.

Dustin Beckwith, Aric Beckwith, Daniel Johnson and Edward Perino were probationary volunteer firefighters in training at Logan Township United Fire Department's Kittanning Trail Station, WJAC reports. They had fewer than 90 days of experience.

Between Jan. 10 and 24, Dustin Beckwith made four bogus calls to the Logan Township police, using Johnson's phone for three of them. Aric Beckwith called the police department on March 15, with Perino joining in. The calls reported fires, cars sliding off roads and a mudslide.

The four "firemen" got to take the truck out to the calls, but none of the emergencies actually happened. It's just too bad they didn't tell the hordes of first responders who also responded to the calls, according to WTAJ and Logan Township Fire Department President Jeff Blake.

"The number previously released was 99 counts on one of the calls, in the fifties for the others," Blaketold WTAJ. "Those are people that are put in danger. Those people have families, they have lives, they have jobs. We accept that risk freely as does any emergency responder but we have about zero tolerance for this kind of danger."

The men face charges of criminal use of communications, false alarms to agencies of public safety, recklessly endangering another person, false reports to law enforcement and criminal conspiracy, according to WTAJ. The AP reports the men have a preliminary hearing on May 26. 

They have been given six month suspensions from the fire department with no membership privileges. Conviction would mean they would be forbidden from rejoining the force. 

"I am pretty much disgusted by this," Matt Massaro, a Logan Township police officer told WJAC. "I responded personally to one of those calls on March 28 for a dwelling fire. My job is to save people so that's my first response."

Moral of the story: If you play with fire, you're going to get burned.


To get connected and stay up-to-date with similar content from American City & County:
Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
Watch us on YouTube

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Governments' Lighter Side?

It is an irreverent take on local and state government news.


Derek Prall

Derek Prall is a professional journalist who has held numerous positions with a variety of print and online publications including The Public Manager magazine and the New Jersey Herald. He is a 2008...
Blog Archive
We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By continuing to use the website, you consent to our use of cookies.