Harrisburg Fire Lt. Dennis DeVoe remembered as a "fireman's fireman"

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Mar 17, 2017 5:38 PM

Photo by Ben Allen/WITF

The procession for Harrisburg Fire Lt. Dennis DeVoe passes under a flag on Harrisburg's State Street Bridge.

(Harrisburg) -- Thousands of firefighters have paid tribute to Harrisburg Fire Lieutenant Dennis DeVoe, killed while responding to a fire last week.

Hundreds of fire trucks and ambulances snaked through Harrisburg, in a procession that brought people out of their homes and offices, to watch and salute.

At Harrisburg's State Street bridge, two ladder trucks held a giant flag steady, with the state Capitol dome in the background.


Photo by Ben Allen/WITF

Firefighters salute as a fire truck (not pictured) carrying Harrisburg Fire Lt. Dennis DeVoe's body arrives at the state Capitol.

Leading the procession was something unique - an antique tractor from the DeVoe family, driven by two of Harrisburg Fire Lt. Dennis DeVoe's children.

Firefighters filled the state Capitol steps, saluting as the procession passed by.

Eventually, it ended at the Forum Auditorium, where the stories of Dennis DeVoe came to light.

"We had many discussions which became very passionate, but we never got mad at each other," says Harrisburg Fire Captain Brian Bastinelli. He called DeVoe a brother to him.

"Most days, we'd play the same game, where I would efficiently pull up next to him on the highway, I would flip him off, and then at a more reasonable rate, I would continue on my way," he says. "Moments later, my phone would ring, and it would be Denny to tell me about some jerk he just encountered on the highway."

Bastinelli says he met Dennis DeVoe on March 11th, 1996, when they entered the fire academy together.

He says that day changed his life for the better.


Photo by Ben Allen/WITF

Two of Harrisburg Fire Lt. Dennis DeVoe's children drive the family's tractor in the procession for their late father.

But he says March 11th, 2017 could not have been more different.

That's when Lt. DeVoe died.

He was responding to a fire.

A Harrisburg woman - allegedly intoxicated and driving a stolen car - t-boned his car.

Bastinelli says he'll carry on the legacy of Devoe, a 21-year veteran of the department.


Photo by Ben Allen/WITF

The fire truck carrying the body of Harrisburg Fire Lt. Dennis DeVoe passes in front of the Pennsylvania State Capitol building.

He says DeVoe was always trying to learn how to best fight fires.

"I respected Denny. He was strong in his convictions and values and he set a fine example for us as a friend, as a man, as a brother fireman, a husband and a father," says Batinelli.

He says DeVoe made the Harrisburg Bureau of Fire better and safer, pushing guys to improve, and finding ways to navigate difficult situations.

"The examples that Denny set for us will forever remain part of his legacy. The bar he set is one we will always strive to reach," he added.

If you asked a question - any question - the next day, Bastinelli says DeVoe would have reading material, videos, and an explanation.

"I always felt better when I saw him on the fire ground," he says. "I knew that whatever his assignment, it was getting carried out with courage, thought, and skill."


Photo by Ben Allen/WITF

Two men salute as the procession honoring Harrisburg Fire Lt. Dennis DeVoe passes by.

Harrisburg Fire Chief Brian Enterline says DeVoe's courage came through just recently.

He arrived at an early-morning fire to people screaming that someone was trapped inside on the first floor.

Enterline says without hesitation, DeVoe ran into the building with another firefighter, crawling through a ball of fire to successfully rescue the trapped person.

Choking back tears, Enterline said: "Today, we award Lt. Dennis H. DeVoe, the award of heroism. Well done, good and faithful servant."


Photo by Ben Allen/WITF

The casket carrying Harrisburg Fire Lt. Dennis DeVoe is brought into the Forum Auditorium, as hundreds of firefighters and police salute.

As Harrisburg Firefighter Eric Jenkins sang Amazing Grace, sniffles could be heard in the crowd.

People reached for tissues, dabbing at their eyes.

Harrisburg Captain Brian Bastinelli offered his final thoughts.

"Thank you for being my brother, and my friend. I will always love you. I miss you buddy."

Then, the last sounds, in honor of Harrisburg Fire Lt. Dennis DeVoe, badge 401.

5 chimes echoed through the auditorium.

DeVoe will be laid to rest in York County in a private ceremony.


Photo by Ben Allen/WITF

People pay their respects as the casket carrying the body of Harrisburg Fire Lt. Dennis DeVoe is brought into the Forum Auditorium.

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