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Jeannette fire department captain charged with DUI, traffic violations

Joe Napsha
| Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 1:48 p.m.
Vance Phillips
John Howard | For Trib Total Media
Vance Phillips

The captain of Jeannette's fire department, one of the city's three paid firefighters, is accused of driving under the influence after state police stopped his vehicle in Hempfield, according to court documents.

State police charged Vance E. Phillips, 34, of Jeannette with DUI after Trooper Brandon Boyd stopped his Dodge pickup about 3:15 a.m. March 4 on the Route 30 westbound ramp, just west of Zeller Street at the Greensburg-Hempfield border.

Boyd stated in an affidavit filed before Hempfield District Judge Mark Mansour that Phillips' truck was traveling 55 mph in a 35-mph zone on West Otterman Street for almost one-half mile and crossed the center white line three times. Phillips allegedly drove through a red traffic light at the intersections of West Otterman and North Hamilton and North Washington avenues.

Boyd alleged he smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle and on Phillips' breath.

Phillips refused to take a field sobriety test or a breath test, Boyd stated.

Phillips could not be reached for comment.

A preliminary hearing had not been scheduled as of Tuesday, according to online court records.

Phillips was hired in June 2015 and appointed chief of the paid department in March 2016. He was demoted to captain in January when a new council took office and named William Frye as chief.

It could not be determined whether the charges could impact Phillips' firefighting duties.

Frye said he could not comment on Phillips.

City Clerk Michelle Langdon said Phillips “is not working at this time.”

Langdon said the matter still is under investigation by the city and she could not comment further on the personnel matter.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or

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