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Citizen's Fire Company firefighter Jerome Guise is one of 17 first-responders to die in line of duty in Cumberland County history
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Cumberland County

Citizen's Fire Company firefighter Jerome Guise is one of 17 first-responders to die in line of duty in Cumberland County history

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Citizen’s Fire Company firefighter Jerome Guise is the first firefighter in Cumberland County history to die of traumatic injuries while engaged in a structure fire, local fire historian Randy Watts said Tuesday.

Guise, 34, was one of two people killed in a house fire early Monday morning in the 1500 block of Boiling Springs Road in Monroe Township.

A volunteer with Citizen’s Fire Company of Mount Holly Springs, Guise died when the front porch roof collapsed on him, according to county Coroner Charley Hall.

A female resident, Jessica Diehl, 36, was found dead on the second story of the house, according to the Pennsylvania State Police. A male occupant of the home was transported to the Lehigh Valley Burn Center with severe injuries, police said.

The author of several books on the fire service, Watts wrote and published a 2020 book titled “A History of Fire Protection in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania 1920-2020.” In it, he documented the line-of-duty deaths of 16 local firefighters, fire police and emergency medical personnel in Cumberland County.

Their names are listed on a memorial that sits out front of the Cumberland County Public Safety building on Claremont Road, Watts said. The memorial was built by Caleb Holley of East Pennsboro Township, as part of his Eagle Scout project.

Prior to Guise, the last known death of a firefighter in the line of duty took place on Feb. 4, 2009, when Barry J. Nagle suffered a fatal heart attack while driving a unit for the Silver Spring Ambulance along Interstate 81 in Hampden Township.

The New Kingstown based ambulance service had been dispatched to assist a disabled ambulance from Franklin County and had loaded the patient and two nurses from the original ambulance not long before, Watts wrote. Nagle’s heart attack caused a crash in which the patient and nurses were not injured but an attendant in the patient compartment had to be hospitalized.

Below is a summary of the other line-of-duty deaths as documented in the book:

  • James N. Dysert Sr., 77, chief of the Carlisle Fire Department, died on Nov. 8, 1938, from complications of a back injury he suffered while directing firemen at a fire in January 1936.
  • Ray Adams, 32, of the Friendship Fire Company, Carlisle, suffered critical injuries after he lost his footing while trying to jump onto a firetruck during a response to a fire on April 20, 1946. He died on May 2, 1946 of complications from those injuries.
  • Fred Grant Heckert, 46, of Enola, was killed instantly when he was struck by an automobile while directing traffic at the scene of the fire that destroyed the Shirk’s Motor Express terminal on Oct. 22, 1951.
  • E.R. “Buck” Fair, 54, fire chief of Citizen’s Fire Company, Lemoyne, “slipped to the floor and died almost immediately” during a call to extinguish a grease fire in the kitchen of Shelly’s Drive-In Restaurant in Lemoyne.
  • S. William Brougher, 59, of West Fairview died on arrival at Holy Spirit Hospital after he collapsed at the scene of a house fire on Second Street, West Fairview, on Jan. 22, 1968. Brougher had been the borough fire chief for 29 years and was a member of the Good Will Fire Company for 42 years.
  • W. Mervin Fogelsanger, 58, suffered a heart attack at the scene of a major fire on West King Street in Shippensburg on Feb. 17, 1969. He was a member of the West End Fire and Rescue Company.
  • Vincent A. Mahoney II, 19, of Carlisle, died on Aug. 25, 1969, from injuries he suffered when the Union Fire Company rural pumper overturned after colliding with an automobile at the intersection of East and High streets in the borough. Volunteers with Union were dispatched to a brush fire in Middlesex Township.
  • Harry E. Hershey, 22, died of smoke inhalation when a fire caused by an electrical malfunction heavily damaged the Cumberland Fire Company quarters during the early morning hours of June 27, 1974. Hershey had become lost in the confusion and was found unconscious at the bunkroom entrance.
  • Gerald L. Royer, 54, also suffered from smoke inhalation from the June 27, 1974, fire at the Cumberland Fire Company. He was initially treated at Carlisle Hospital but was later admitted to the intensive care unit for an apparent heart attack. Royer died on July 11, 1974.
  • Lester “Mo” Shoffner, 54, chief of the Citizens Fire Company in Mechanicsburg, died of a heart attack after arriving on the scene of a trailer fire in Monroe Township on April 20, 1976.
  • Calvin A. Beam of the Penn Township Volunteer Fire Company suffered a heart attack while on the scene of a truck fire on I-81 and died at the Hershey Medical Center on April 15, 1988.
  • Deputy Chief Roy J. Sheely, 50, answered eight alarms with the Lower Allen Township Fire Department during the evening and night of Dec. 5, 1993. The following morning, he suffered a massive heart attack at home and died instantly.
  • Camp Hill Mayor Thomas J. Prosser was active in the Wormleysburg Fire Police unit. The 60-year-old man was stricken with chest pains while directing traffic at the scene of an auto accident in Lemoyne the morning of March 6, 1995. He later died of a heart attack.
  • William A. “Shorty” Frank, 73, suffered a severe heart attack while responding to an automatic fire alarm at the Capitol City Mall on May 28, 1996. Members of the Lower Allen Township Fire Department administered cardio-pulmonary resuscitation but Frank slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness.
  • Fire police Lt. Thomas J. Concannon died of a heart attack while responding to a minor traffic accident on Dec. 18, 1998. He was found slumped over the steering wheel of his vehicle with his foot on the brake.

Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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