Funeral Set for Pennsylvania Firefighter

Viewing and funeral services are scheduled Tuesday for a volunteer firefighter in Columbus. Pa.

William Church, 64, was found behind the wheel of the attack engine Thursday, said Chief Jason Pierson.

He was stricken by an apparent heart attack after backing the engine into the station. "He was in cardiac arrest. They started CPR, and called for an ambulance."

He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Visitation will be held Tuesday from 10 a.m until 1 p.m. at Bracken Funeral Home in Corry, Pa. The funeral service will begin after the viewing.

The procession to the cemetery will follow. Departments planning to attend are asked to call the Corry Fire Department at 814-663-2401 for information.

The Columbus fire company will be out of service this evening through Tuesday night. Fire crews from Sugar Grove and Northern Warren will be on duty.

A dinner will be held at the Columbus fire hall after interment.

Last Thursday, Church had responded with the second engine on an alarm. But, the unit was placed in service. His fellow firefighters found him when they returned in the first truck.

"It appears he had a massive heart attack after he backed in the engine. If it had to happen, we just thank God he was in the station, and not in a wreck."

Church, who's been involved in the fire service for more than 30 years, once served as president of the department.

"He was very knowledgeable. He had hundreds and hundreds of hours of training. He was very, very involved."

Church was captain of the department's fire police. "That's what he was most involved in. But, he also drove the apparatus..."

He also was the emergency management liaison between the department and the local township. "If we had a disaster here, he would be the one who would coordinate with the county to get the equipment we needed."

Pierson said the station has been decorated with black bunting, and the flags lowered to half mast.

"He will definitely be missed. He did a lot around here..."