FACTORYVILLE– Over the decades Daniel Lomax worked at numerous fire and police departments, but Fire Station #9 in Factoryville had a special place in his heart.
That’s where he started volunteering as a teenager. That’s where older firefighters encouraged him to get a his GED. That’s where he would go out on calls with his nephew, who he inspired to follow in his footsteps. That’s where he was a lifetime member. A lifetime that ended up shorter that anyone expected.
Lomax was killed in just after 3 a.m. Saturday on Sawmill Road in Salem Township. State Police say he was electrocuted by fallen wires at the scene of a car crash where he stopped to help.
The 55-year-old was an unlikely resident of Factoryville.
Family members say he was brought to the community from Philadelphia by Allied Services to live with a foster family when he was 14 or 15. Even though he was an African-American kid from the “big city” he seemed to thrive in the close-knit Wyoming County community.
On Saturday, his family sat on their porch right across from the firehouse laughing and crying at the memories.
His sister Jackie Brower says, “He came to a town that was mostly whites and he made it.”
Across the area Lomax is being remembered as a groundbreaker.
Factoryville Fire Company Assistant Chief Ned Sherman recalls: “He was a fixture around here. He was our first African American ever. He didn’t consider himself. He considered himself part of the family and we considered him part of the family. “
Lomax, known to friends as “J.J” after the character on “Good Times” came of age in the firehouse in the 1970′s. Sherman says firefighters nagged him to get his G.E.D. Standing in the firehouse, he recalls the moment when his protege finally reached his goal.
Sherman says,”He came busting through that door, the biggest smile on his face, he said look at what I got, he already had it framed, his GED diploma, and it brought tears to our eyes. He listened to what we told him.”
His nephew Justin Brower says Lomax was a father figure to him, inspiring him to volunteer at the firehouse and pursue a career in police work.
“I am kind of trying to train to be a police officer. Because that’s what he did and he loved doing it,” he says.
Lomax worked as a police officer in Mayfield, Forest City, and Great Bend. He volunteered with numerous fire departments, and was a Deputy Fire Chief in Scott Township.
While his family is struggling to understand how the accident happened, nobody who knew has any doubt why he was at the scene of the crash.
Sherman says, “That’s how he went. I mean doing what he wanted to do. And doing what he did. Helping people.”