Longtime fire service veteran Jackson Gerhart is being mourned by firefighters throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington D.C. after dying from a fatal head injury sustained at the scene of a house fire.
Gerhart, 65, became a volunteer firefighter in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania in the 1950s, said Chambersburg Emergency Services Chief John Vanlandingham. He later became a career firefighter in Chambersburg and then in Washington D.C.
Gerhart also served as Deputy Chief at the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Maryland. He joined the HVFD in 1963 and became Deputy Chief in 1966, remained an officer until 1969, and a member into the 70's.
Gerhart retired after about 30 years in the fire service, but continued to volunteer in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania at the West End Fire and Rescue Co.
Vanlandingham said he will be especially remembered for serving as a mentor to many young firefighters and assisting them in their careers. He was well-known throughout the Pennsylvania, Maryland and D.C. area.
"He committed his life to the fire service and helped countless people within the fire service," the chief said. "He will be missed by a great number of people."
Gerhart was also a fire history buff and a collector of fire equipment and memorabilia, Vanlandingham said. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
Gerhart was injured on Tuesday, November 30 after he responded in his personal vehicle to assist the Chambersburg Fire Department, the chief said.
The department was dispatched to a house fire at 10:06 a.m. When the engine arrived on scene at 10:09 a.m. Gerhart assisted by advancing the five inch supply line to a hydrant. He was on street level when he fell and struck his head on the pavement and sustained a brain injury, Vanlandingham said. It was undetermined whether Gerhart collapsed as the result of a medical condition, or slipped and fell in the process of pulling the hose and walking backward.
Vanlandingham said he rendered aid to Gerhart while the engine crews continued to operate the house fire. Gerhart was transported to Chambersburg Hospital and then flown to York Trauma Center, where he was was on life support until the evening of Sunday, December 5th.
Shippensburg Fire Chief Jamie White said Gerhart will be extremely missed.
"The 5th of December was a sad day for the fire service," he said. "Jack dedicated his life to the fire service, his friends and his family. We express our condolences to his family, and thank them for letting him be a part of our family as well as theirs. He will live forever in our hearts."
Visitation will be Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Fogelsanger-Bricker Funeral Home Inc., 112 West King Street, Shippensburg. There will not be a viewing or visitation at church on Thursday.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, December 9, 1 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, Chambersburg. Officiating will be The Rev. John J. Dromazos and The Rev. Dianne B. Salter.
Burial will be in the Norland Cemetery, Chambersburg.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Chambersburg Fire Department Museum, 550 Broad Street, Chambersburg, PA 17201.