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San Francisco Man Accused Of Impersonating Firefighter At Station

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A San Francisco Fire Department fire engine. (CBS)

A San Francisco Fire Department fire engine. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — A San Francisco man was arrested Monday after he somehow gained entrance to a fire station, dressed in a female firefighter’s clothes, and gave a rambling statement about working for the military, spokespeople for the police and fire departments said Tuesday.

A firefighter arriving at Station 19 at 390 Buckingham Way in the Taraval District for a morning shift found 29-year-old Eric Miller around 6 a.m. sitting on the couch watching TV, police said.

Miller, wearing a firefighter T-shirt, greeted the firefighter, who initially assumed Miller was another firefighter he hadn’t seen before, fire department spokeswoman Lt. Mindy Talmadge said.

The firefighter then asked Miller, “Do you need a jump?” which is firefighter lingo for taking over a shift, according to Talmadge.

Miller didn’t understand the question, and the firefighter became suspicious, she said.

When asked what he was doing there, Miller replied that he “worked for the army and was waiting for an emergency call on the DNS phone,” police spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.

Firefighters then detained him until police arrived.

Talmadge acknowledged that there are firefighter “groupies” fascinated with the job who often hang around fire stations, but discounted the groupie theory in this case.

“Nobody knew who the guy was,” she said. “Usually if somebody’s inclined to be a groupie-type person, they come to the fire stations, and people know who they are.”

Police believe Miller might have jumped the fence outside the station and entered through an unlocked back door, though it was uncertain exactly when. The station has nine firefighters on duty at any given time.

Talmadge said firefighters sleeping at the station overnight heard someone working out in the gym around 2 a.m., but they did not investigate because they assumed it was another firefighter.

Miller had apparently retrieved a female firefighter’s clothing from the dryer and then washed his shoes in the washing machine, Talmadge said.

He then donned the female firefighter’s T-shirt and shorts, and rolled her underwear up inside his own T-shirt, Talmadge said.

He was also found holding a metal briefcase belonging to one of the firefighters, and other items had been moved about the station, she said.

Dangerfield said that Miller later told police, “I was hanging out inside the firehouse waiting for the captain,” and then began rambling and “started to exhibit odd behavior.”

Miller, who lives about a mile away from the station, was booked for burglary and possession of stolen property, according to Dangerfield.

“I don’t know what his deal was, honestly, it just sounds like he has some sort of a mental issue or something,” Talmadge said.

She added that Miller did not exhibit any violent behavior.

“We certainly don’t mind anybody coming by the station anytime, if they ring the bell,” Talmadge said.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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