SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Five San Francisco firefighters—including the acting battalion chief and two assistant chiefs—await a decision on whether or not they’ll be suspended in connection with a crash between a fire truck and motorcycle this past June in the South of Market area.
The firefighter at the wheel of the truck left the scene after the crash. It was later found that he’d been drinking and that his blood-alcohol level was over the legal limit for driving and way over the zero tolerance policy on alcohol for on-duty firefighters.
Acting Battalion Chief Mark Hayes faces a four-day suspension while Assistant Chiefs Art Kenny and Dave Franklin face 10 and eight-day suspensions respectively.
Two lower-level firefighters, Warren Der and Matt Schwartz, who were on the truck face 30-day suspensions.
The driver, Michael Quinn, has since resigned and may face criminal charges. Jaxon Van Derbeken with the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Quinn faced drug and alcohol testing, as required by the fire department’s policy.
Right after the accident, Quinn decided to go to The Chieftan, a nearby bar, at the intersection of the incident. He was seen drinking copious amounts of water, Van Derbeken said. One of the other firefighters, who faces a 30-day suspension, can be seen on the bar’s surveillance video accompanying Quinn that night. It is not known what that firefighter did to merit that decision.
“The strangest part of it is everything went up the chain of command to the top levels of the fire department. The people who are charging others were notified that night in live time what was happening and were given direction as to what to do,” said Tom O’Connor with the San Francisco Firefighters Local 798, the firefighter’s union.
O’Connor added that they were all saddened by the events of that night, but to go after people “who try to do the right thing” compounds matters.
Hayes-White has only said that decisions made that night on the part of the firefighters could have been different. The fire department said they cannot comment on personnel matters.
The assistant chiefs facing suspensions have a right to meet with Hayes-White to discuss the case and will go before the Fire Commission to face disciplinary action.
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