The Flagler Beach city manager has suspended four firefighters with pay, including the chief of the department, after claims surfaced that they drank alcohol while on the job.
According to public records obtained by Local 6 on Wednesday, one of the incidents under investigation happened on Dec. 14, 2012, during the firefighters’ holiday party.
The documents state that Chief Martin Roberts admitted he and Captain Steve Wood drank apple pie moonshine and then responded to a house fire.
Witnesses said Wood also drank beer then drove the tower truck, which seats five people and has a 95-foot aerial platform, to the fire.
The second incident allegedly happened Christmas Day.
The firefighters wrote that when assistant Fire Chief Shane Wood and firefighter Jacob Bissonette came off duty at 8 a.m. they drank moonshine and beer, while in uniform at the fire station.
“I’m hoping it’s not true, because I think they are a great bunch of guys there,” said Jane Mealy, chair of the city commission.
The attorney for Steve Wood told WFTV that his client was not under the influence of alcohol when he was operating city fire equipment. He said he expects his client to be vindicated.
Roberts and Steven Wood are accused of drinking alcohol during the Flagler Beach Fire Department’s holiday party on Dec. 14 and then responding to a fire call, according to reports. Steven Wood is listed as “Fire Captain of the Fire Police,” a volunteer position, but he is employed as a garbage truck driver, according to city documents. He has been suspended from his paid and unpaid positions.
A firefighter and paramedic, whose name is being withheld by the city, wrote in a statement to Campbell and Kania that he or she was at the department’s Christmas party at Friends Cafe in Flagler Beach when Engine 11 was paged out to a residential structure fire on the north side of the city.
“Fire Police Captain Steve Wood, who I had seen drinking beer and what appeared to be apple pie moonshine (apple juice colored liquid from a mason jar) throughout the night, was making his way outside,” the employee wrote. “Steven Wood then went to the fire station to pick up Tower 11 (the fire department’s aerial truck), and drove it to the fire.”
Robert Pace, a firefighter and paramedic, is the acting chief, as he was last year when a different set of allegations emerged against Roberts. Roberts survived that controversy—focused on his trip to inspect fire trucks without the city manager’s knowledge—with a three-day suspension.
The allegations originated with Pace, who wrote a two-page letter on Dec. 26 to Campbell and Libby Kania, the human resources director, citing “several incidents recently that are very concerning to me and several members of the fire department.” But he was not alone filing the complaints. Another firefighter sent a letter to Kania and Campbell on the 25th, and another–a volunteer firefighter–on the 28th.
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Also on STATter911 …
- What’s going on in Florida? Scathing reports about Flagler Beach & Miami Beach fire departments. – February 8, 2013
- Axe falls in Flagler Beach, FL. Chief, assistant chief & firefighter fired over drinking in firehouse. – February 17, 2013
- Public pressure forces removal of beer at Colorado firehouse. Former firefighter tells reporter ‘people have showed up visibly impaired’ at fires. – May 16, 2012
- Firefighter’s suit over 2010 tanker wreck describes ‘party atmosphere’ at PA’s North Bangor VFC. Underage assistant chief was charged with drunken driving after crash. – November 9, 2012
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