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Fire company defends assistant chief cited for using emergency lights illegally

YORK TWP., Pa. - A York County fire company is defending its assistant chief, who was cited for illegal use of emergency signals about a month after the alleged violation occurred.

Assistant Chief Scotty Bowman with the Goodwill Fire Company was cited last week by York Area Regional Police stemming from an incident on July 17th in front of the fire station in York Township.

Surveillance video provided by the fire company shows a fire truck stopping to back into the fire station. Moments later, the female driver of a Dodge Ram pickup truck sped around the fire truck.

"[She] nearly clipped the truck, he had to slam the brakes on, and also pushed another car off to the curb in the opposite direction," said Wendy Tracey, the president of Goodwill Fire Company.

Bowman, who was driving a fire company SUV behind the fire truck, can then be seen driving around the fire truck, and he turned on his emergency lights to pass safely and get the license plate number of the pickup, which was fire company protocol. He turned off the lights once he passed the fire truck, Tracey said. The driver of the pickup truck pulled over, but not because Bowman had pulled her over, which would be illegal, Tracey said.

"He didn't have time to stop to get the license plate number because she had already pulled over, so he basically drove up to her and said, 'Look, you can't go around fire apparatus. It's dangerous. You almost got hit,'" she said.

Bowman thought that would be the end of it, until last week, when reportedly acting on a tip, York Area Regional Police cited Bowman for illegal use of emergency lights. If he pleads or is found guilty, he would owe more than $850 in a fine and court costs.

York Area Regional Police Chief Tim Damon declined a request from FOX43 seeking comment for this story.

"If a tipster calls something in, it's considered hearsay if it was not seen by a police officer," Tracey said. "The lady in the Dodge Ram has not come forward, has made no complaint about our department."

Fire department officials have encouraged Bowman to fight the citation, but he has not retained legal representation as of yet, and it is unclear if he will.

Bowman is one of the department's most active volunteers, and is currently focused on paying the medical costs from his two-year-old son's fight with cancer, Tracey said.

If Bowman is forced to pay the fine, the fire department is considering holding a car wash without using taxpayer funds to raise money for the fine. Others have approached the department about helping him out.

"We had someone from Fawn Grove try and give our fire chief $10 to put in a fund for Scotty Bowman, and we've had various people, strangers saying 'Where can I donate?'" Tracey said.

In spite of the incident, Tracey says she wants to work out any disagreement with the police department to maintain positive relations with the officers.

Bowman has ten days to respond to the citation, and if he chooses to contest the citation, a trial date would be set.