About Curt

Public Service - Fire Service

Curt is from a family of firefighters; his father and several brothers were volunteers with Viscose Fire Company in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. Curt proudly displays his father’s Chief helmet to this day. In 1965, at the age of 18, Curt joined Viscose as a volunteer firefighter. He became a qualified State Fire Instructor and rose through the ranks at Viscose as a firefighter and driver, eventually becoming Chief and President of the Company. Curt earned an A.A. Degree in Fire Science Technology from the Delaware County Community College in June of 1973. Following his graduation, he wrote, developed and taught the first Administrative Officers Seminar Program for Volunteer Fire Companies. Curt was also appointed the first Administrator of the Delaware County Fire Academy.

Marcus Hook Borough is surrounded by oil refineries and through Curt’s service he gained extraordinary experience in fire response and cleanup coordination related to the collateral effects on a community when an industry that handles volatile materials has accidents.

Curt was Assistant Fire Chief of Viscose when the single worst disaster in Delaware County, still to this day, happened in the Delaware River adjacent to Marcus Hook. The Corinthos Disaster, occurred in the early morning of January 31, 1975 when two oil tankers collided. The fire burned for three days and caused 100 million dollars in damage. Twenty-nine people perished.

Following the disaster, Curt co-authored a detailed account of the event, written as an educational book for fire departments. Much of the text and photographs in the book, The Corinthos Disaster: Oil Tanker Fire and Explosion were contributed by Curt. The book was printed and bound by the authors using a printing press owned by Mr. George Piasecki, in Mr. Paisecki's garage in Marcus Hook. As a result of Curt's involvement in the response and subsequent efforts at disseminating educational advice to other fire departments, Curt penned a number of columns for fire service journals, spoke at a number of fire service conferences around the country and testified before Congress on June 19, 1976 at the request of his representative, the late Honorable Robert W. Edgar, whom Curt would later go on to challenge for his seat.

In addition to the experience of the Corinthos disaster, Curt coordinated response and community recovery efforts after a series of late 1970s underground explosions of liquefied petroleum gas reserves owned by the Sun Oil refinery. The explosions forced the gas into a number of homes on the edge of the town, displacing residents for months. Curt again testified before Congress.

It was during these years that Curt first reached out to his local elected officials asking for support to improve fire response capabilities. When the elected officials of Marcus Hook failed to respond to the needs of the fire department, Curt ran for Mayor in 1977, and won.

As Mayor, Curt asked for help at the County level to support the needs of the fire service and again, gained little support. So, in 1981 he ran for and was elected to Delaware County Council with the support of the fire service.

Curt's fire service and community organizing experience would prove to be a defining focus during his public service as a Member of the United States Congress. During his freshman term as a Member of the House of Representatives, Curt began to lay the groundwork for an organization that would represent the voice of the fire service to elected officials at a national level. He quickly learned the reality that without an organized voice, the fire service would continue to struggle for funding and support for laws that improve safety and attract more people to join the fire service. An article published in Firehouse Magazine in February of 1988, discusses Curt’s effort to establish the Congressional Fire Service Caucus.

Curt’s vision was about to become reality when attention to the issue of fire response needs was brought to the forefront of the entire Congress on May 6, 1988 when then Speaker Jim Wright’s office, located a few doors away from Curt’s office in the Longworth Office Building, caught fire just after 6 PM. Curt and staff were working when they distinctly smelled smoke. Curt’s initial response was to look for fire hoses and alarms to sound and he soon found the hose cabinets empty and no alarms at all. Curt attempted unsuccessfully to use a fire extinguisher to control the growing fire. The fire burned until emergency crews could run hoses up from the exterior of the building. The reality that the offices of our elected members of Congress were not even close to being adequately prepared for a fire hit home. The Congressional Fire Services Caucus quickly became the largest, bi-partisan Caucus on Capitol Hill. The Caucus works closely with the Congressional Fire Services Institute to gauge the needs of the fire service from an organized, nationwide group of leaders in the fire and emergency responder community. In April of 2013, the Caucus celebrated its 25th Anniversary with Curt and Vice-President Joe Biden.

Curt is often referred to as, “America’s Fireman” and he continues to support the fire service however he can, including speaking pro-bono at fire department events around the country. The Weldon family has given lots of love to six Dalmatians over the years.