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Commissioner Roth Last Day

A Farewell Ride For The Commish

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A Warm Send-off From the Folks in Hanover, Pennsylvania

 

Forty-three years after he first hopped into an open-cab fire truck and rushed out in a bell-ringing blur to help the people of Hanover, the borough’s fire commissioner stepped once more aboard an antique engine. On a gray Friday afternoon he paused there to look around, to smile for pictures. He took a deep breath of that sweet fresh air.

Many firefighters, family and friends came out to see the man known as Commissioner Roth leave the borough office for the last time. A 1935 Dodge open-cab fire engine awaited to take him on a farewell tour of Hanover and all the fire stations. “It’s been a fun ride,” he said, one arm around a grinning grandson in that idling truck. “Thank you, folks.”

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The visit from fellow firefighters and their escort around town in an old 1935 Dodge fire truck was a late-day surprise to Roth, who spent much of his final Friday on the job sharing stories with borough employees and friends. But the ride was a last treat, his firefighters said, for a man who’s faithfully served the Hanover area for 43 years.

Roth grew up in Gettysburg and joined Hanover’s fire department in 1968, driving a Mack fire engine out of Clearview Station on North George Street. Over the years he rose through the ranks, making lieutenant in 1973. And in 1978 he became Hanover’s third fire commissioner. Since that time, Roth said he’s prided himself on a philosophy of teamwork, and never asked his men to do something at a fire scene he wouldn’t do himself. He’s proud of the firefighters he’s watched grow up around him, he said, and more proud that under his watch those “youngsters” always came home safe.  Roth was quote previously as saying, “Always wave to the people and always bring everyone home safe from a fire”. On Friday he did just that, he waved to many residents as they honked their horns and waved at the passing old fire engine.

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On the last leg of the farewell ride, he even did something that hasn’t been done in over twenty five-years, he rode the tailboard back to his firehouse. Roth could be heard saying many times, “This is where real firemen rode.“ It’s an attitude that’s endeared him to a generation of Hanover-area firefighters, and one that made it all the more difficult late Friday afternoon for his men to tell him goodbye.

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The group would then make their way back to Wirt Park station for some fun, before taking the commissioner by his office at the borough again. And from there, those firefighters would make one more run. Because with smoke-gray clouds still billowing above, they said, it was only right to return the favor, and deliver Hanover’s fire commissioner home to his family, safe.

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