18-year-old firefighter in West Manchester Township admits to making series of false fire calls
WEST MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, York County — A West Manchester Township firefighter is facing charges after police say he called in six false fire event calls to York County Control over a six-week span between December 2018 and last month.
Isaiah Smith, 18, is charged with making false alarms to an agency of public safety and disorderly conduct, according to West Manchester Township Police.
Police say they began investigating when West Manchester Township Fire Chief Cliff Laughman filed a complaint with police on Jan. 25, reporting that his department had received numerous false fire calls over the last few weeks. The calls went into the 911 Center’s non-emergency numbers and could not be traced, nor did the numbers show up on the center’s caller identification systems, police say.
Laughman retrieved all the call tapes from the 911 center and listened to them, according to police. He identified the caller as Smith, who was one of Laughman’s firefighters, police say.
Smith allegedly called in false events on:
- Dec. 22, 2018, 9:59 p.m.: Church Road and Broad Street (supposed gas leak)
- Jan. 9, 2019, 11:55 p.m.: Planet Fitness on 2130 White Street (supposed gas leak)
- Jan. 10, 2019, 9:29 p.m.: North Baker Road and East Berlin Road (supposed barn fire)
- Jan. 18, 2019, 10:21 p.m.: Derry Road and Church Road (supposed house fire)
- Jan. 19, 2019, 10:07 p.m.: Sunset Lane and Derry Road (supposed car crash)
- Jan. 31, 2019, 7:21 a.m.: Wyndham Garden Inn, 2000 Loucks Road (supposed gas leak)
Police also listened to the calls and determined they were made from the same person, according to the criminal complaint affidavit filed against Smith. Other fire department officers also identified Smith as the caller after listening to the calls, police say.
The subject in each call used different names and phone numbers when providing information to 911, according to police.
Police interviewed Smith on Feb. 7, according to the criminal complaint. He allegedly admitted to calling in one of the gas leak reports because he smelled something, according to police.
Police say they went over each call with Smith, who admitted to making the calls, but said in each case he was relaying information he’d received from a friend via Snapchat or text message. Smith could not provide any evidence of the Snapchat or text messages, and could not explain why he gave a false name and phone number with each call — other than not wanting to be yelled at by his fire chief, police say.
Eventually, Smith admitted to calling in the gas leak at the Wyndam Garden because he was “bored,” according to police.
Smith allegedly told police his actions had gotten out of control and knew he needed to quit, but did not believe his actions were a serious criminal issue, police say.
He allegedly began to cry when police told him he would be charged for the false calls, according to police.
The charges were sent to Smith by mail, police say.