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Radio traffic: Fireground dispute over who’ll take first due position makes news in Pennsylvania

A little tension on the fireground in York County

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Some tension on a fireground in York County, Pennsylvania Saturday morning has made news after the radio traffic was shared on Facebook. WPMT-TV picked up the story of a dispute over which company would take the first due position at Smittie’s Soft Pretzels on Carlisle Road in Dover Township. The incident is a good reminder that when radio traffic shows you’re not playing well together, you may suddenly find a spotlight on your disputes.

In the recording (above) via OpenMHz.com, Engine 9-2 (Dover Township) tells the Engine 6-2 (Union Fire & Hose Company #1 of Dover Borough) to standby at the hydrant rather than take the first due position. Engine 6-2 protests, “”Engine 9, we’re ahead of you. We’re not going to stage at the hydrant. We’ll assume first due.”

Chief 9, Brian Widmayer, then intervenes, “This is Chief 9. You will go to the hydrant as directed.”

Engine 6-2 responds, “Okay, if you want the first arriving scene to go past the scene, we’ll go to the hydrant. Would you wish for our manpower to be dropped off?”

Chief Widmayer then says, “Engine 6, go to the hydrant as directed or you can go into service – your choice.”

For context there’s a more complete recording of the incident below.

Grace Griffaton, WPMT-TV:

Controversy over radio communication between two York County volunteer fire departments: Saturday, crews with Dover Township and Dover Borough, aka Union Fire & Hose Co. #1, responded to reports of smoke in Smittie’s Soft Pretzels on Carlisle Road. Things took a surprising turn when the first department on scene was advised by the second to drive past it.

FOX43 called Chief Widmayer to try and clear the air, but he declined a recorded phone interview.

Widmayer did state the incident is a nonissue, adding he believes the Facebook comments are fake. When asked about department protocol, Widmayer said he advised Dover Borough and its engine to go to the hydrant to hook up its hose. Widmayer agreed to send us details about the call over text. He lists the dispatch, responding, and on scene times. He writes the call was reduced to “non emergency confirmed burnt cooking” and “no fire dept. services needed.” Widmayer also told FOX43 the issue has been resolved between the two companies.

FOX43 has more questions, though, including, what is protocol when a department arrives on scene? When should an engine hook up to a hydrant? Is there any benefit for volunteer fire departments who arrive first on scene?

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