CHAPMANVILLE — The fire chief of the Chapmanville Volunteer Fire Department says there is “no truth” to stories that a 16-year-old who turned 17 in September has fought active fires and operated equipment for the department.
The 17-year-old has been described as a model student at Chapmanville Regional High School and those in authority at Chapmanville say he “is a great human being.”
Because the lad wants to be a police officer in adulthood, he has actively had an interest in law enforcement and the fire department, according to Chapmanville Chief Tommy Perry.
“We need to focus on all the good things this boy has done for the community and forget this one incident,” he said by phone over the weekend.
The “one incident” Perry referred to is the result of a brawl at a Logan-Scott boys basketball game held at CRHS two weekends ago. During the incident on court, Logan High boys basketball Coach Mark Hatcher was eventually charged with assault and battery of a police officer A Logan Banner photograph showed Hatcher being escorted from the gym floor by two “police officers.” It did not take long for readers to inform the paper that one of the two “officers” was a juvenile who attends CRHS.
Initially, CRHS officials said they are aware of the student and the services he has provided to the school. Princiipal Kathy Moore said he is “an excellent student and a great person.” She added, however, that she did not know why he was on the floor during the brawl wearing what appeared to be a sheriff’s department uniform. Logan Sheriff Sonya Porter and Chief Deputy M. Mayes denied that the boy was part of any “junior deputy” program or that he had ridden in squad cars on regular patrols with deputies.
Also called into question were assertions by family members of the boy that he had “fought fires and run equipment” for the Chapmanville Fire Department. If that was true, particularly during an active fire, it would be a violation of state fire laws.
But Chief Perry said nothing like that has ever happened. “We need to focus on what a great kid he is,” the chief said of his junior fireman. “He has never been on the scene of an active fire and in the fire zone while it was a hot zone,” said Perry. Anyone who claims otherwise is just not familiar with fire procedures, he said.
“He has gone in after the scene is declared safe,” said the chief. “But he absolutely has not fought a hot fire.”
Perry said he hopes publicity surrounding the boy does not “discourage him and keep him from his career” in law enforcement. “That would be so sad,” said the chief. “I hope he keeps his chin up and keeps working in community service.”
The youngster, who has not been named by this newspaper in an attempt to protect his identity, is also a highly-touted member of the CRHS football team.
The direct family of the boy has declined to comment for attribution in the media.