President of regional fireman's association sets priorities

September 10, 2000

President of regional fireman's association sets priorities


photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

Steve HeefnerHALFWAY - After graduating from North Hagerstown High School in the 1970s, Steve Heefner was ready to serve his country and registered for the draft. He wasn't picked but still wanted to do his part, so he signed up at a local carnival to join the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway.

"I didn't serve my country but I can still serve my county," he said.

Heefner dedicated the past 25 years to the fire service, acting as a line officer, president and now as a Washington County fire police officer.

On Aug. 25, Heefner was named president of the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Fireman's Association, a organization which serves as an advocate for fire companies in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware.


The association also promotes fire safety awareness, assists in the fire education of its members and encourages a good working relationship among the participating states, said Heefner.

Several Washington County fire companies and individual firefighters are members of the association including Halfway, said Heefner.

Heefner, 47, of Halfway, was made president after being named to a rotating panel of officers four years ago.

The president's position requires a one-year term.

Heefner said he will make it a priority to work to reduce deaths and injuries of emergency personnel on the roads and highways.

The death of veteran Washington County fire police officer Joe Kroboth Jr., in 1998, brought that necessity to light, he said.

Kroboth, 59, a captain assigned to the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway, died while assisting with traffic control at an accident on Interstate 81. He was hit by a pickup truck after stepping into the fast lane.

Heefner said the public needs to drive slower and use caution when approaching an accident scene.

Rescue personnel need proper training before going to an accident or crime scene, he said.

"You can't just give someone a whistle and a flashlight and say they are a fire policeman," he said.

Fire police officers need to ensure their own safety by wearing vests and correctly positioning flares, cones and vehicles, he said.

Washington County fire police must undergo hazardous material and other training but different counties don't have such requirements, he said.

Heefner said he is hoping the association will be able to produce a fire police training video to distribute to companies across the nation.

As association president, Heefner said he will work with other members to establish a strategic plan for the upcoming years. The Cumberland Valley Volunteer Fireman's Association will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2001, he said.

During the past 100 years, the association adopted a set of by-laws, began the use of standardized hose equipment among participating companies and created a scholarship fund in 1988.

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