EMA, county: Don’t give up on Big Run fire department

BROOKVILLE — The following is a statement issued by the Jefferson County Department of Emergency Services, following the arrest of now-former Big Run firefighter Anthony Overbeck, 18, Big Run, on arson and related charges pertaining to an Aug. 9 fire along Pennsylvania Avenue in Big Run:

While most people in the Big Run area feel relieved with the recent arrest in the string of arsons, one group of individuals struggles to figure out why this happened.

This group, charged with saving lives and property, is the Big Run Area Volunteeer Fire Company.

“We must continue to support the officers and members of the Big Run Fire Company as we always did,” said Tracy W. Zents, director of emergency services for Jefferson County. “The arrest of a volunteer firefighter suspected of arson does not reflect the true reason why people volunteer to join the fire service ranks.”

The Jefferson County Commissioners and the Jefferson County Department of Emergency Services are asking area residents to continue to support the area fire company as they always did.

“This group of people needs your continued support because of the vital service they provide to the community,” commission Chairman Paul Corbin said. “Not only do they help extinguish fires, but they also provide comfort and aid to victims of car crashes, medical emergencies and natural and man-made disasters.”

Commissioner Jim McIntyre confirmed that statement, saying, “An arsonist can paralyze a community with fear and anger. We can’t let one person’s inconceivable judgement tarnish the good that comes from this dedicated group of people.”

“A volunteer firefighter is person like you or me that is willing to volunteer a portion of his or her time to their community,” said Commissioner Jeff Pisarcik. “These people volunteer to give something back to their community. Without them, we would all be in serious trouble. We depend on the volunteer fire departments, and we must continue to support them.”

Zents agrees with the commissioners and asks that every community continue to support the fire service.

“Each fire feels like a personal assault,” he said. “It puts many people at risk, and truly dedicated firefighters, police officers and ambulance attendants do take offense when someone does this, especially from within our ranks. Banding together as partners strengthens our resolve and can bring law enforcement, the fire service and the public together to more effectively fight the crime of arson.

“The Big Run Area Fire Company needs everyone’s support to continue its mission of protecting lives and property,” Zents said.