Calif. firefighter cuffed for refusing to move fire truck

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by ronduke, Feb 26, 2010.

  1. ronduke

    ronduke

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    Calif. firefighter cuffed for refusing to move fire truck
    A CHP officer ordered the rig moved and handcuffed a fire battalion chief who refused
    By Angel Pacheco
    Santa Barbara News-Press

    MONTECITO, Calif. — A California Highway Patrol officer handcuffed and detained a Montecito fire battalion chief on Presidents Day after the firefighter refused to move a fire truck, which was blocking Highway 101 traffic, in order to protect officials responding to a crash.

    The Montecito Fire Protection District battalion chief was released as soon as a CHP supervisor arrived at the scene, and no charges have been filed, CHP Capt. Jeff Sgobba told the News-Press Monday during a brief meeting at Montecito fire headquarters on San Ysidro Road. The agencies are looking into the incident internally.

    "For a member of another agency to get detained and placed in handcuffs is highly unusual, rare, regrettable and frankly, caused embarrassment to both departments," Sgt. Sgobba said.

    He added: "We've been discussing this before, and we're not going to let one situation between two individuals ruin a perfectly good relationship we enjoy with Montecito Fire Department."

    CHP arrived at the minor-injury collision on the southbound side of Highway 101 north of Sheffield Drive first, and fire crews soon followed. Firefighters positioning a fire rig at an angle going into the shoulder and blocking the fast lane, as is the department's standard procedure to protect the initial responders, Capt. Sgobba said.

    "This was at 3 o'clock in the afternoon — you know — on a Monday after the three-day weekend" Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Wallace said, referring to the heavy traffic at the time.

    Capt. Sgobba continued: "There was a difference of opinion whether (the battalion chief) should move his rig or not because they had not had an opportunity to assess the injured parties, and our officer abruptly reminded that battalion chief to move the rig." The battalion chief did not comply with the CHP demand and was subsequently handcuffed and detained until the CHP supervisor arrived, at which point he was immediately released, Capt. Sgobba said.

    Chief Wallace received a report of the incident but he was unable to respond in his personal vehicle because of traffic, but he said it was mostly resolved about half an hour after it started.

    "We're just doing a follow-up because of what happened," Chief Wallace said. "We want to make sure that the good relationship that we've had is not deteriorated by this single incident."

    Of the parking technique, Chief Wallace said, "At an angle, you've got that much more square footage to protect you."

    The vehicle did not impede on the slow lane, according to the department.

    The CHP officer apparently believed the placement of the vehicle would add to traffic, which was backed up for several miles because of the holiday weekend and the crash, Capt. Sgobba said.

    The agencies have discussed the response tactics, and Capt. Sgobba said they likely would have come under scrutiny regardless.

    "When there are differences of opinion, that's when we debrief the situation and find out what we could have done differently," the captain said. "If the policy needs to be modified or training needs to be adjusted, we do that, and that's another mutual agreement between the representatives of the departments."

    Sgt. Sgobba confirmed the CHP officer transferred back to the Santa Barbara area from Bakersfield about a month ago after being gone for a little more than two years.

    Asked if the disagreement could have anything to do with the officer still re-familiarizing himself with local policies, Capt. Sgobba said it's possible, but he didn't know.

    The chief concluded, "It's regrettable, and we're moving on from here to improve our relationship."
     
  2. glock75

    glock75

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  3. blueiron

    blueiron

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    The same thing happened here back in 2005. A Phoenix Fire engineer blocked 2/3's of Interstate 17 during morning rush hour for a very minor injury accident. DPS gets there and wants everything moved to the access road during the wrap up. Both the fire engineer and captain refuse to move the appartus anywhere and the engineer was arrested - I believe for failure to comply with a lawful order.

    Eventually, it all came out in the wash, but Phoenix Fire has to comply with DPS direction on the metro freeways.
     
  4. glock192327

    glock192327 Where is eye

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    Not saying anything about the conflicting fireman, or the officer, but I think anyone in emergency situations should damn well make sure their guys are covered for safety. Including cops pulling people over on the roadside. I've read enough, and seen enough videos of how emergency personnel are killed by idiots coming down the highway. And after standing on the side of an interstate myself a couple times, and having a paramedic killed locally in that situation, I think it would be a good idea to require driver's licensing rules to stipulate that if you're pulled over, either get very far off the road, or wait to pull over till an exit. Within this state, if I understand it correctly, you're supposed to slow down, and merge left if possible when encountering an emergency situation on the right. Last time I was "pulled" on a four-lane, I waited, and pulled off to a service road. HP didn't seem to mind. Just my ten cents, given inflation.
     
  5. seagravedriver

    seagravedriver

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    Being involved in the fire service for over 20 years, and 4 years as a reserve officer, I would like to chime in. In the 180 or so square mile district I work for serves, we have everything from single lane dirt roads to hiways with posted 60mph speed limits. We have about 100 career, and 40 volunteer personel. Law enforcement is Pierce County Sheriff, Washington State Patrol, and one of 4 city police departments, depending on the area.

    Of all the things I have done in my career, including mistakes, the closest I have ever come to being killed has been on MVAs, without a doubt. Ice, corners, off camber corners, drunks, the list goes on and on. I have been at a funeral for my fire chief who was killed in at fire, visited two friends in hospitals, one was burned, another was struck by a driver rubbernecking at an MVA. My friends choice was get hit, or jump over an overpass onto a freeway. The Vietnam vet shoved one guy out of the way and ended up with a broken leg.

    When we evalutate and extricate a patient, we try to do it from the non traffic side, for our protection. But with our butts or legs hanging out of the car, no restraint, you know what would happen if the patients vehilce was struck. So we create a safety zone for us to work in. When we extracate a patient, that is take them out on a backbaord, we have to do it from the side they are on. So the driver usually gets pulled out on the traffic side. The backboard is over 6 feet long, so I/we are backing out into traffic with the patient, so we are well into the lane of travel if we are on the shoulder. If we use hydraulic tools, (Jaws), door can "pop" open unexpectedly. If we need a hose line out, it needs to be out of the way if possible, as it is a huge trip hazard, (bear in mind we are carrying a patient on a backboard, so tripping is a huge hazard), cots roll poorly over 1&3/4 inch hose, and the jaws take up a lot of room as well. Due to patient care, my back is often to traffic, when I did traffic stops, that was usually not the case. We try hard to clear the road, because traffic is a concern. We communicate with WSP or PCSO when we are blocking the road to tell them why, and it has never been a problem. If we are called to a crime scene, we keep unnessary people out of the scene, as it only takes one medic to "call" a patient. You all do not need a bunch of fire guys walking on evidence.:whistling: Communication is key, and the LE agencies that we work with have been great.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2010
  6. ateamer

    ateamer NRA4EVR

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    The CHiPpie was being an idiot. Keep the lane blocked, protect the personnel and involved parties at the scene. So a lane is blocked - big fricking deal. I have seen CHP guys around here get all uptight a time or two because the lane wasn't opened fast enough. Their biggest concern sometimes seems to be keeping traffic moving, rather than safety at the scene.
     
  7. OLY-M4gery

    OLY-M4gery

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    You have to balance the need to block the road against the likelyhood of creating secondary crashes by blocking the road.

    For whatever reason, a lot of cops think the highway must remain open no matter what. While a lot of fire fighters can't park in a way that makes sense for scene protection, or to oncoming vehicles.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2010
  8. sargespd

    sargespd

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    I have seen and heard officers criticize fire and ems personnel for blocking traffic at scenes, but the reality where I am is that when they respond to a scene, they are actually in charge where safety issues are concerned. Until they release the scene, its theirs. Sure, traffic may back up, but I agree with them, that safety is primary. I have always done everything I could to make sure we had great relationships with our brothers and sisters in the fire service. Sounds like the chippie needs a lesson in reality.
     
  9. dp509

    dp509 2009 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor

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    We usually try and block the other end with a cruiser and shut the road down from both ends.
    Note: We do not have any interstates in our jurisdiction. :supergrin:
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2010
  10. blueiron

    blueiron

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    There is a simple solution for everyone involved.

    Send firefighters to training in order to understand Highway Patrol/Police concerns and send HP/Coppers to Firefighter training in fireground and EMS scene management.

    If a Firefighter or a Copper understands only their job and not the other half of the public safety equation, things like this are going to happen when Type A personalities collide without understanding how to do one's job and allow the other half to do their job safely and efficiently.

    If the firedog or the cop doesn't inherently like the other side and creates a problem afterward, then it can be dealt with by letters of reprimand, unpaid suspensions, etc.
     
  11. OLY-M4gery

    OLY-M4gery

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    It's not traffic backing up that is the real concern. I work where there are mostly 55 and 65 mph roads, when traffic starts to back up, and the back up approaches a hillcrest, or intersection, the concern is there will be a second, more severe crash, caused when traffic going 55-65mph encounters that stopped or slowed traffic.

    No thinking person would question blocking a lane, or a road, for a crash that requires extrication, or is blocking parts of the road, and more needs to be blocked to safely manage the scene.

    It the FD/EMS responses for minor incidents, that are otherwise out of traffic, that involve stuff like parking on both sides of the road for a fender bender with little or no injury, when if everyone parked on the same side of the road as the incident EVERYONE would be safer.

    It's the crash vehicle on the shoulder, with minor, minor, injuries, that have a FD blocking a lane, near a hillcrest, to "protect the scene" that is already off the traveled portion of the road.
     
  12. seagravedriver

    seagravedriver

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    While backed up traffic does create hazards, (not to mention the minor MVAs on the other side of the median that occur while others drivers rubbernecking us.) I would rather have another car hit another car at low speed, then for me to get hit at low speed. Yes it slows traffic during the commute, but that's the way it is.

    There are some FDs who park in a way that is unsafe to EVERYONE. That is a training issue. A couple hour class with FD and PD folks would be great. That would go a long way toward mitigating any problems. Some departments just have loads of units on a scene looking around and taking up space. Those rigs, in my opinion, need to be gone or parked way out of the way.

    Again, the agencies in the area I work are just a pleasure to work with.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2010
  13. blueiron

    blueiron

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    This assumes that all secondary accidents are minor. They may be and they may not be.

    First hand experience showed me that people on Interstates, metro freeways, state highways, and the like do not expect traffic to ever stop, even though it often does at certain times.

    Various transportation studies at the state level and by NHTSA show that many drivers go from an actively defensive posture in stop and go traffic, into a neutral posture where the cruise control goes on and no major impediments are anticipated. This can lead to severe and high speed motor vehicle incidents when the driver is inattentive.

    Keeping traffic flowing in not merely a convenience to other motorists, but can prevent inattentive drivers from rearending others and causing serious injuries/fatalities.
     
  14. Gangrel

    Gangrel

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    I can't imagine anyone being pissed off that the FD is volunteering to put 20 tons and 1 million dollars out there to protect your life.

    I don't have any experience with any other FDs, but our guys are awesome. We have have several major interstates/highways in our city. They block off the scene, lay out cones and flares, help clean up liquids and begin to remove debris in addition to all of their real Fire/Medic duties.

    Traffic can wait, safety can't.
     
  15. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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  16. jpa

    jpa CLM

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    I'm sure the chippie has a Masters degree and can run faster than anyone in his academy class. Any guesses as to what age group he belongs to? I'm going 21-27.
     
  17. sargespd

    sargespd

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    For a bit of background on the area where I spent 23 years of my career, my community has about 4 miles of I-275, the loop around Cincinnati Ohio. Now up to 5 lanes in each direction. Two major state routes through our city, both of which have ramps for I-275, one of which is a total of 9 lanes at some points. 5 square miles, daytime population of as high as 80,000. Nearly 2000 accident reports filed every year, by a PD of 40. So, I feel like maybe I know a bit about crash scenes. Bottom line is that the Fire service and EMS ALWAYS have primary safety control when they are on scene. Our fire guys were great about clearing lanes as quickly as safety permits, but the reality is its their call as long as their personnel are working the scene.
     
  18. seagravedriver

    seagravedriver

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    And I agree, and stand by my statement of I would rather have them hit another car than me, my co-workers and LE. I would rather my 40k pounds of fire engine be the impediment to a inattentive driver than me, my turnout gear and my flimsy OSHA mandated tear-away safety vest, not to mention the patient. For the most part, I am unable to safely remove a patient from the traffic side of the vehicle if they are injured per the medical protocols I operate under unless the lane is blocked.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2010
  19. bucky_925

    bucky_925

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    It seems I have read many times on a certain forum something to the effect (the actions he took was for his protection, and his main concern was going home safe, don't judge until you are in our position). I don't know, maybe it only pertains to certain civil servants.
     
  20. Chico Bill

    Chico Bill Millennium Member

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    I'm confused...Seeing as Fire and LE are both civil servant positions I'm not sure to what you are referring. is there a specific post you are addressing?