Volunteer Firefighters in Two States Facing Multiple Arson Charges

Volunteer firefighters in two states, Pennsylvania and Iowa, are facing criminal charges that accuse them of involvement in multiple arsons. In Pennsylvania, Andrew Bischofis has been arrested by Pennsylvania State Police on charges he was involved with setting four building fires between September 30 and October 1, 2023.

Bischofis, 21, is a recently discharged Navy veteran who joined the Arnold Volunteer Fire Department just days before the first fire. He has been charged with arson, aggravated arson, causing or risking catastrophe, criminal mischief, burglary and criminal trespass.

The four fires were all within ½ mile of each other. Three of the fires were in abandoned buildings, and the fourth was in a building where the occupants were away. Bischofis was reportedly caught on security video in the vicinity of each fire. More on the story.

In Iowa, Kendall Eugene Rhoads, 60, is facing 13 counts of second-degree arson and one count of reckless use of fire or explosives for a series of fires earlier this year. Rhoads responded to the incidents as a firefighter with the Holland Fire Department. The Grundy County Sheriff’s Office issued the following statement:

  • In April of this year the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office started an investigation into a string of arson fires. The fires were mostly ditch fires and some spread into nearby corn fields, other fires included buildings on abandoned properties.
  • On 09-28-2023 The Grundy County Sheriff’s office arrested, Kendall Eugene Rhoads 60, of Grundy Center for 13 counts of Arson 2nd, a Class C Felony and one count of reckless use of fire or explosives a serious misdemeanor.
  • Rhoads has been a Holland Fireman for the past six years and after setting the fires he would respond with the fire department and assist in putting the fires out. This is an ongoing investigation, and the public is encouraged to contact the sheriff’s office with any additional information. This case could not have been solved without the help of the public.
  • Rhoads remains in the Grundy County Jail in lieu of bond. A criminal charge is merely an accusation and all defendants are presumed innocent.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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