We introduced you to Chuck Coldren Tuesday night. He is the career fire chief of Uniontown, Pennsylvania (Fayette County) making a little more than $56,000 per year. The chief, wearing a t-shirt and shorts, let Uniontown resident Chris Shellhammer have it on Monday at an emergency incident. Shellhammer’s video is now making news. Local newspapers and at least two Pittsburgh TV stations did the story yesterday trying to get to the bottom of the fire chief’s tirade.
It turns out Chief Coldren missed his latest turn on camera because he is on vacation and reporters could not reach him at his home or office. This left Mayor Ed Fike to answer for Uniontown. Upon seeing the video, Mayor Fiske described Chief Coldren as a low-key guy who had to have been provoked to act that way. Shellhammer claims there was no provocation. The mayor told reporters there will now be an investigation and if an apology is warranted he is sure the chief will have no problem doing that.
The video has prompted lots of discussion with hundreds of comments posted on STATter911.com and related Facebook pages and many other forums. Only a couple of people have come to the chief’s defense so far.
Uniontown resident Chris Shellhammer likes to know what’s going on in his neighborhood. So when he saw police and fire vehicles near his home on Monday, he walked over to see what he could see. He also started capturing video with his cellphone.
In the video, Uniontown Fire Chief Charles Coldren approaches Shellhammer in plain clothes and ask him to move back, which Shellhammer does. Shellhammer suggests the area should be taped off if the public is not allowed. That’s when the encounter escalates.
“You’re not going to tell me how to do my (expletive) job. Now, if you want to keep running your lip I’ll have you (expletive) arrested. You can record me all you want. I don’t give a flying (expletive),” Coldren says in the video.
It’s important to note, Shellhammer described himself and his family members as “community activists,” and they’ve become known in the community as a result. Shellhammer said he’s skeptical of authority and often joins protests at the Fayette County courthouse. However, in the Internet video, Shellhammer’s responses don’t seem to warrant Coldren’s responses and, at one point, Coldren appears to challenge Shellhammer to a fight.
“You want to put that down and take it to another level?” Coldren said in the video. “Let’s go.”
Action News went to Coldren’s Uniontown home looking for answers but he didn’t answer the door. An employee at the fire station said he is on vacation until next week. Channel 4 was first to show Uniontown Mayor Ed Fike the Internet video, which has now been viewed more than 5,000 times.
“You only hear one side of it, not that that makes either side right,” Fike said.
“He said he doesn’t give a flying ‘F’ if I record him, knowing he was being recorded. It just blew my mind,” said Shellhammer.
When shown the video of the fire chief, Uniontown Mayor Eddie Fike said, “He’s a low-key kind of guy. For him to say anything improper, someone had to provoke him, in my opinion.”
Shellhammer told Channel 11’s Cara Sapida he did nothing to provoke Coldren.
Fike said he will open an investigation.
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