Last week’s house fire in Tarpon Springs took the life of a prominent doctor. It’s possible the Fire Chief’s career also went up in flames.
“There are grave allegations against him,” says Tarpon Springs Mayor Beverley Billiris.
Billiris says Fire Chief Stephen Moreno admitted to her that he came to the late-night fire scene after consuming alcohol.
“He had been out and he’d had a couple of drinks and you could smell liquor on his breath,” says Billiris.
After Moreno’s admission, scathing complaints from fellow firefighters came in to city hall. They say the chief gave conflicting orders, which endangered himself and others.
In paperwork obtained by 10 Connects, unidentified firefighters write: “I noticed someone walking through the scene without any protective gear on.”
“I noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.”
“His actions resulted in confusion for everyone involved.”
A Palm Harbor firefighter provided a written statement that says in part, “The chaos on this scene was made only worse by Fire Chief Stephen Moreno’s actions and demeanor which placed ALL personnel on the fireground at much great health and safety risk.” (NOTE- Originally WTSP-TV credited this statement to Palm Harbor Chief Jim Angle. Liz Monforti, Palm Harbor Fire Rescue PIO, tells STATter911.com that “Chief Angle did not make any written or verbal remarks concerning the incident”.)
“Up until this point, he’s had a great record with the city of Tarpon Springs,” says Billiris. “I’m sorry to see this come to this.”
Moreno lives in a gated community. 10 Connects asked the guard to give the chief a call and the guard told us our request for an interview was denied.
On Wednesday the city manager put the chief on administrative leave and an internal investigation is under way. The mayor and commissioners can give direction, but it will be up to the city manager to hand out discipline or a pink slip.
Also on STATter911 …
- New Jersey chief orders bars closed at two firehouses. Comes after member’s DUI crash in parking lot. – October 25, 2012
- Police say man driving ambulance was drunk. Hackettstown, NJ squad member arrested before patient transport. – February 21, 2013
- Lodi, NJ fire chief says proposed firehouse ban on alcohol ‘totally uncalled for’. Mayor calls it a liability issue. – August 24, 2012
- Lodi, NJ moving forward with fire department alcohol ban. Now working with fire officials to modify ordinance covering firehouse bar & related issues. – September 20, 2012
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