Indiana Fire Chief Arrested For Assaulting Police At Fire Scene

The chief of the Cannelton (IN) Fire Department was arrested Tuesday for shoving a police officer multiple times at a fire scene.

Tuesday evening, Cannelton Fire and Police Departments responded to an active structure fire at 550 Knight Street, Cannelton.  Cannelton Police Officer Ryen Foertsch and Perry County Deputy Stephen Poehlein arrived at the scene, and immediately entered the burning residence to make sure nobody was inside.  After clearing two rooms of the home, smoke became too overwhelming, forcing the officers from the fire.

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Once outside, Foertsch attempted to break the window of a room that he was unable to clear.  Fire Chief Christopher Herzog, age 51, approached Foertsch, pushed him hard enough to cause him to step back, and began shouting profanities at him, telling him to get off of his fire scene.  Foertsch tried explained to Herzog what they were doing in clearing the burning home, at which point Herzog pushed Foertsch again, and again yelled profanities at Foertsch to get off of his scene.

At the request of Cannelton Police Chief Lee Hall, troopers with the Indiana State Police were contacted to investigate the complaint.  After investigating, Troopers Jeremy Galloway and Nathaniel Kern arrived at the scene of the fire and placed Herzog into custody.  Herzog was lodged in the Perry County Jail.

Herzog was arrested for Battery Against a Public Safety Official, a Level 6 Felony in Indiana.

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  1. JayGoldenBeach

    If prosecutors insist on pursuing the charge against the fire chief, then it is only fair to charge the belligerent officer (and maybe the arresting officers) with interfering with/obstructing firefighting personnel at an active fire.

  2. David Halton

    Breaking the window could have killed that officer he is not a fire fighter and should have not entered the structure at all by the time he was outside he was playing superman. Police are not equipped and more than once had to be rescued from a burning building. I bet that the officer told the chief that he was going to brake the window no matter what the chief said. This crap has got to stop they don’t have a clue what they are doing and cause more problems for firefighters the officer was braking the law and the chief had the right to stop him this was why we fought for the law in the first place.

  3. Rich Bawol

    Fire Chief was in the right and the Officers should have backed off once he arrived. At that point he is in charge. Breaking that window would have just fed the fire. A good Lawyer will get this Chief off. This is one of those cases where the Cop should have got his ass beat.

  4. borderraven

    Fire Chief owns the ground at a fire.

  5. 2crows

    Breaking windows and letting more oxygen into a fire is a no no. It sounds like the chief might have gotten carried away but he is the supervisor and the highest Authority on the scene and everyone else needs to follow his commands.

  6. Almost All Knowing Eye

    The chief was waaaaaay out of line. While he was fighting with the cops the house was burning. And that’s just for starters.

    • IceTrey

      After the Chief was arrested the cops chased off the other firemen and the house burned down.

    • INKYFiremedicop

      Actually, under Indiana state law (IC 35-44-4-8), Interfering With a Firefighter is a Class A misdemeanor; the actions of the officer trying to break the windows, and of the arresting officer, meet the elements of this offense.

      Given the potentially deadly consequences of the officer’s inappropriate (albeit well intentioned) actions, I’d bet that the fire chief’s lawyer can and will reasonably articulate that the chief’s actions were necessary for the safety of everyone on that fireground.

      I think this is one of those cases where both sides were right, and both sides were wrong – potentially criminally wrong. Lots of gray here. It’s probably a great time to forget charges against either of them, educate all parties, and move on.

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