In the wake of the collision between two fire trucks responding to the same emergency, the Anne Arundel County Fire Department has changed the way it dispatches Calvert County’s Dunkirk Volunteer Fire Department on mutual aid calls into Anne Arundel. In a statement to STATter911.com, Anne Arundel County Chief John Robert Ray said the decision to “limit but not eliminate” Dunkirk’s responses was made “in the interest of public and firefighter safety”.
Dunkirk VFD Chief Toby Sealey calls the change “flat out dangerous” and says it is “a poor decision that will have ill fated results with due time”.
In explaining that decision, Chief Ray says his department “operates under nationally recognized best practices policies and procedures for both responses to and operations at emergency incidents”. According to Ray, “there has been some deviation from these policies by members of one of our neighboring departments”. Ray is “hopeful that continued discussions and perhaps joint training opportunities will yield positive results, which will allow me to revert to the prior response profile with this company.”
Chief Sealey forwarded to STATter911.com an email sent by Anne Arundel County Division Chief H. Lee Cornwell outlining the new mutual aid plan. The email says in part:
… in light of the recent accident at RT255/RT468, our department determined it was necessary to make adjustments to the running assignments. Although we think our meeting last week was promising, this incident is just another example of the concern we have with your company. In summary, any box area where your company is either closest or second due, the assignments remained the same. Box areas where your company was greater than second due, your company has been removed from the running assignments.
Dunkirk’s Engine 51 and Anne Arundel’s Tower 40 collided while responding to a reported gas leak on February 14. The Capital of Annapolis reports the driver of Dunkirk’s rig, 24-year-old David Stream, has been charged with one count of unsafe driving by an operator of an emergency vehicle. The Capital also cites the police report as saying Tower 40 had the green light and that Dunkirk’s engine didn’t stop at the scene, but continued to the call.
Chief Sealey, in an email to STATter911.com, disputes the police report and says pictures he has provided prove that a diagram on that report is wrong. STATter911.com currently does not have a copy of that police report.
Chief Sealey also forwarded his response to Chief Cornwell. In it, Sealey cites numerous concerns about the relationship between the volunteers at his station and the career staff in Anne Arundel County.
Sealey sent along two images he claims had been posted at Anne Arundel County Station 9. One is a Jeopardy style question that reads “Where do reject Prince George’s County firefighters spend their days off?”. The other is set up as a caution message that uses expletives to indicate Dunkirk volunteers are on the way to mess things up.
Sealey also writes in his email to Cornwell that an individual at Station 9 tossed Dunkirk provided SOPs into the trash can. He adds:
The same individual most likely (is) responsible for comparing a picture of Engine 52 to that of a school bus that transports handicapped children that was posted in the station, along with other derogatory posters and drawings that I do in fact have in my possession, and were given to me by one of your employees that will remain nameless at this time to prevent any retaliation by you or your command staff. Do you condone this type of immature behavior in your stations? Do you condone the hostile work environment that your employees are creating for my men and women? How would you explain these derogatory posters to a citizen that stops by one of your stations to show their kids a firetruck, or a citizen that’s having a medical emergency? Is that the PROFESSIONALISM that you praise that your county and your employees have?
Anne Arundel County Division Chief Michael Cox, a department spokesman, tells STATter911.com “these images are obliviously inappropriate and an investigation into the matter is underway.” Cox says in a statement, “Any individuals found guilty of such inappropriate behavior will be dealt with appropriately, in accordance with established departmental policy.”
In an incident STATter911.com covered in January, 2009, the professionalism of Chief Sealey was brought into question after photos surfaced in the publication St. Mary’s Today of Sealey wearing a fire department shirt exposing himself at a Dunkirk bar.
Asked about this, Chief Sealey wrote:
I am aware of the issues in January of 2009, and I have handled the cards that were dealt to me regarding that issue. Is it something to be proud of? Absolutely not. If it takes people (commenters on your site) to beat a dead horse (ref. Jan.2009) to get the point across about how this decision that Anne Arundel County Fire Department is making then so be it. Once again, just for clarification, this issue isn’t about me at all, which I’m sure that you are very aware of. This is about the safety and well being of fellow Fire, Rescue, and EMS personnel (in) both Anne Arundel, and Calvert County, as well as the general public.
Toby Sealey is also a career firefighter in the District of Columbia. In his emails (links above), Sealey apologizes for a late response to these issues because he is recovering from second degree burns received during a fatal fire in DC on February 17. Sealey was released from the MedStar Burn Unit at the Washington Hospital Center on Friday.
David Stream is also a career firefighting with the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, assigned to Station 24 in Accokeek. Stream faces the possibility of a $150 fine and three points on his license.