On Tuesday evening, a California Highway Patrolman arrested a fire fighter. The cause? The firefighter was too busy tending to injured motorists at a crash site to move a fire engine on the cop’s orders.
Okay, it was probably more complicated than that. Maybe the fire engine was blocking traffic. Maybe the motorist’s injuries weren’t too dire. Maybe the firefighter had a few choice words for the patrolman. Maybe the cop had had a bad day.
But whatever the story behind the story, it became a publicity mess for the California Highway Patrol after a local news station arrived on scene and got footage of the event. A CBS affiliate out of Chula Vista arrived in time to film the police handcuffing the firefighter, identified as 12 year veteran Jacob Gregoire, and placing him in the back of a patrol car. Gregoire was released and was not charged with any crime.
Now the Chula Vista Fire Department and the CHP are trying to come to a resolution on the matter. They released the following joint statement on Wednesday:
Last night there was an unfortunate incident at the scene of a traffic collision on I-805, where both our agencies had responded. Both the CHP and the Chula Vista Fire Department share a common goal of protecting the public and providing the highest level of safety to responding emergency personnel, involved parties and other drivers at collision scenes.
Both of our agencies have the utmost respect for each other and our respective missions. This was an isolated incident and not representative of the manner in which our agencies normally work together toward our common goal.
This morning representatives from both agencies met to discuss the incident to improve communication and ensure the highest level of service is provided to the public. This incident will be a topic of future joint training sessions, in an ongoing effort to work more efficiently together.
The International Association of Fire Fighters, however, is unimpressed. The IAFF local chapter has released a fairly biting response to the incident, claiming that Gregoire had “positioned a Fire Engine consistent with his training in a manner that was intended to protect the safety of the victims of the accident the accident as well as the emergency personnel on scene,” that the police officer had clearly stated that Gregoire was under arrest, that Gregoire was searched for weapons, and that he’d been asked “to move his Fire Engine before it was safe to do so.”
As yet, the name of the highway patrolman has not been released.
Image via Wikimedia Commons