A controlled burn turned deadly last week for a volunteer fire chief with the Schagticoke Volunteer Fire Department.
Dick Ven Wert, 58 of the Schagticoke Volunteer Fire Department, in Rensselear County, was killed instantly when a van filled with 100 pounds of firework explosives exploded.
The explosion, which ripped the van apart and shook the neighboring town, was caused by a spark that accidentally ignited the explosives.
Van Wert was conducting a controlled burn, disposing of disregarded fireworks when the tragedy occurred.
Funeral services were held this past Tuesday with numerous area departments attending to pay their respects to the fallen chief.
Van Werp's death is another in a growing number of fire related deaths occurring in the past few weeks.
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12-16-1999, 07:19 AM #1Northeast FirefighterFirehouse.com Guest
Upstate New York Fire Chief Killed in Action
12-16-1999, 03:49 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jun 2006
Just for reader's information, we've gotten some inquiries about why this wasn't posted as a LODD. To the best of our research and newspaper sources, the chief was employed by a fireworks company at the time of his death, not in his official duties as a firefighter.
And while he may have received a fire service funeral, we are still awaiting word from the USFA and other sources as to whether it will be reported as a line of duty death.
If you have further information, please pass it along.
12-16-1999, 08:28 PM #3Truck 2Firehouse.com Guest
I read about this incident in our local paper I think. Mr. Wert was working for the fireworks company with another man burning the old fireworks. One load had been burnt and they returned to the site to burn another load 25 mins. later under state law I think the article said they should not have burnt at that site for 24 hours! When they opened the van door a spark blew in and Wert saw it and told the other man to run, the other man fell down but servived the blast. Dick Wert was standing beside the van when it blew, the roof was blown off the van and the blast could be felt 15 miles away, by my understanding this had nothing to do with his position of fire chief, he was working for his employer. I read this in the Lancaster New Era published in Lancaster, Pa. they probably got it from the Asso.Press
Hope this is some help!
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