PA Volunteer Firefighter Facing Arson Charges

A Pennsylvania firefighter is behind bars facing charges that he set three separate fires including one on January 2, 2016 that destroyed a barn and an 1800 square foot shed.

Cody Weidner, 19, a probationary firefighter with the Fleetwood Volunteer Fire Company, is accused of setting three fires and is suspected in a string of suspicious fires.

The arrest was the culmination of a collaborative investigation involving the Fleetwood Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Fleetwood, Walnuttown and Virginville fire companies.

According to police, at about 7:30 pm on January 2, 2016, Weidner approached a property owner, Lester Hoover, about burining one of his buildings on Baldy Road in Maxatawny Township as a training exercise for the fire department. Within 30 minutes an 1,800-square-foot shed was engulfed in flames, which extended to a nearby barn.

The Fleetwood Volunteer Fire Company took to social media, posting the following on their Facebook page.

Chief John Manmiller

Numerous suspicious incidents and arson fires in the Fleetwood and surrounding area:

The Fleetwood Volunteer Fire Company has worked very closely with the Fleetwood Police Department over the course of the past few months to investigate and assist in any way possible the rash of suspicious fires that have plagued the borough and fire department. The fires or attempts at starting fires in Fleetwood began in August of this year and has kept the department busy with fires occurring almost every week.

The culmination of the investigation has turned out as no fire department would ever wish it to turn out, but as many arson cases do throughout the country, it appears that it could be fire department member, Cody Wiedner. Cody, a 19 year old probationary fire fighter with the department was arrested on January 3rd and charged by the police department for his role in three separate fires. There are more suspicious fires still under investigation by the police department.

Buildings can be rebuilt. Our concern is with the safety of our residents. We are thankful no one was injured. The members of our department, and members of our mutual aid companies who assist us in responding to the calls, put their lives on the line every time they leave there homes and stations. To respond on a call at any time where there may be suspicions on the cause, make the firefighters that are doing this job for the right reason, sick to their stomachs. This person passed a mandatory background check prior to membership. He participated in training but was not a certified interior firefighter. He has been suspended with intent to dismiss pending the outcome of the judicial systems proceedings.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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