EDITORIAL: Fire flap merits external investigation

2013-04-05T00:00:00Z 2013-04-06T23:23:03Z EDITORIAL: Fire flap merits external investigation nwitimes.com
April 05, 2013 12:00 am  • 

There's a lot we don't know about the situation involving the firefighter who walked back to the station after a brush fire Tuesday night. It merits a thorough, impartial investigation.

Did Lake Ridge Fire Chief Pat Booth tell firefighter Paul Channell to take a hike Tuesday? And if so, did he mean it literally or figuratively?

Channell, who has been on the department three years, said he was forced to walk back to the fire station — more than four miles — wearing full gear after that brush fire in Griffith.

Fellow firefighter Jeffry Tucker, who wasn't at the scene, got involved after Channell called him during the walk back to the station.

Being forced to walk, with no one allowed to give Channell a ride, violated the unwritten code that requires the department to make sure firefighters return to the station safely.

"He was facing possible dehydration and blisters on his feet," Tucker said.

Booth said this situation is an internal dispute.

"It is an issue with another firefighter at a fire last night," Booth said Wednesday. "He made a decision upon his own to do something, and it is under investigation by the department."

It's under investigation by Assistant Chief Mike Redd. That's better than having the chief himself investigate, but hardly an impartial investigation.

A dispute that has escalated to the point of a firefighter walking more than four miles back to the station after a fire should be investigated by someone outside the department.

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