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Maryland firefighter threatened with arrest while fighting a fire at Pennsylvania home of his parents.


Baltimore Sun photo of Firefighter Justin Davidson.

Justin Davidson didn’t look like he does in that picture when he was fighting a house fire on Tuesday in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, south of Philadelphia. Then he was dressed only in a T-shirt and shorts. His tools to fight the blaze were an extinguisher, a garden shovel and water from the kitchen sink.

According to the article by Nicole Fuller in The Baltimore Sun, the off-duty Anne Arundel County firefighter had been taking a nap in his old bedroom while visiting his parents’ home. Pamela Davidson came in screaming to her son the house was on fire. Justin got his parents and their dogs outside and went to work while waiting for the local VFD. But police arrived first and that didn’t go too well. Here are excerpts from Fuller’s story:

When local police showed up to answer the 911 call — minutes before the volunteer fire company responded — they wanted everyone out, including Davidson, 28, who lives in Baltimore. Unmoved by his claims of being a firefighter, they threatened to arrest him, according to fire officials.

But Davidson, in between shouting with the police, wouldn’t quit trying to save his parents’ modest home.

“The police were threatening to drag me out,” said Davidson, a nine-year veteran assigned to Truck Company 33 in Glen Burnie, who was not injured. “They said, ‘You’re going to jail.’ At that point, it just didn’t matter; I had to save my parents’ house. This is all they have.”

Joe Lombardo Jr., chief of the Garden City Fire Company in Pennsylvania, responded to the fire and helped put out not only the one-alarm blaze but the dispute between Davidson and the officers. Lombardo, who has been chief of the volunteer company for 32 years, remembered Davidson as a cadet junior firefighter when he was in high school.

“The police were upset because they didn’t know him, but once I had a conversation with them, it was all good,” said Lombardo. “I did yell at him for being in shorts. But he’s well-trained. It was pretty much contained when we got there. He saved it from being a lot worse than it could have been.”

Police Chief Thomas Flannery of Nether Providence Township said the incident report makes no note of threats of arrest, but Flannery said he was glad that “cooler heads prevailed,” especially since Davidson is a trained professional.

“I think we showed good judgment and restraint with that,” Flannery said. “We shouldn’t be arresting people who were just trying to put a fire out.”

Chief Michael Cox, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel Fire Department, said he could not comment without knowing all the facts, but that under national firefighting standards, “we recommend that … all occupants evacuate the building and remain outside until the arrival of the fire department, and only trained and equipped firefighters should re-enter.”

“I teach classes on this,” Davidson said. “I know what to do: If your house is on fire, get out. But my natural instincts kicked in. I was born to do this.”

“We live in a small town, it’s an all-volunteer fire department and God bless them for the volunteer work that they do,” said Pamela Davidson. “But if we had waited for them, our house would have been gone. So we’re just thankful Justin was home. We’re so proud of him.”


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  • totwtytr

    “I think we showed good judgment and restraint with that,” Flannery said. “We shouldn’t be arresting people who were just trying to put a fire out.”

    I’d have to wonder what the charge would be? Trespassing? No. Disorderly conduct? Uh, no. Interfering with the FD? Well, they weren’t there, so no. Chief Flannery is no doubt breathing a sigh of relief that there won’t be a large settlement for false arrest by his non to bright officers. Granted that by the book Davidson should have done an Elvis, but he’s the exception to the rule. At least he, if not the cops, showed common sense and good judgment.

  • boydG

    (cops) Because we say so…..

  • Charles Smith

    I will disagree with you. He did NOT show common sense, nor good judgement. He made a absolute 100% emotional based decision. While I am no fan of Police Officers at fire or EMS scenes, as we know the tend to operate out of their scope of training.(I never realized the police academy included fire academy and paramedic school, my mistake Mr. Officer) I still believe FF Davidsons actions defied all his training to including the basic use of PPE. At what point do you as a home owner decide to stop the aggressive interior attack with the garden hose? Just something to think about.

  • Brian

    Obviously his aggressive attack was successful and he did not receive any injuries so I am guessing he had things under control. Why not just say good job firemen, way to make us proud?

    Just another text book firefighter complaining that things are too dangerous without all safety considerations in place. Glad I don’t live in your first due.

    Just good job being a FIREFIGHTER and getting the JOB DONE Brother.

  • mw

    I bet you are the same guy who stands outside in the front yard on a house fire…..

    Justin you are completely retarded for other things I have seen you do outside of work but none the less you’re one hell of a fireman! Stay safe brother!

  • uk-fb-buff

    Cops run-amok.

    Going back to the incident in Oklahoma last year, up to the current DC incident.

    You have to ask; What arethey teaching in the POST Academies
    in 2009-10?

  • PG Fireman

    Excellent job fireman! It’s not the job of the police to remove people from fires.. they need to secure the scene from the outside and not park in front of the residence or nearest water supply.

    Fireman davidson obviously knows his craft and would know when to retreat upon untenable deteriorating conditions. Dont let these “out”standing wannabees tell you different.

  • Mick Mayers

    If your house is on fire, it’s not my problem- just another day at the office. I’ll wear my gear, thanks.

    If my house is on fire (or my parents), all bets are off.

    At least he was wearing clothes. You’ll see me standing in the living room in my boxers and a garden hose trading blows with “the dragon”. I can reassure you, it wouldn’t be pretty.

    Another place where a little flexibility is in order. The cops need to probably lighten up a little. But then, so do we.

  • Charles Smith

    Please don’t misunderstand my message. Yes I do believe all Police Officers think that they are Firefighters and/or Paramedics. But I will still stick to my guns as far as the freelancing goes. Andy Fredericks stated, “A firefighter with no tools is only a informed citizen” Would PGFEMS appericiate a off duty Anne Arundel County Firefighter driving by in his POV to just randomly stopping and put out house fires in PG? I am not attacking anyones character. However there are a few people here that are attacking my character. But if you are asking me as a Professional Firefighter would I have made that decision with my own house, no I would not have. I have the full faith in my local fire department (Which is not my employer) and secondly thats what I pay all those insurance payments for.

    As far as Firefighter Davidson he is absolutly my brother, and I have no doubt he knows his craft well. My comment on the emotional based decision, I will put it in a EMS perspective. If you responded to a traffic accident and realized it was your mother, would it be appropirate for you to be the medic rendering care, would you think that may cloud your judgement a little? Thats all I am saying. Its a stop and think before acting. We only have each other to take care of US…

  • aint no safety sallie

    More of the safety sallies crying about something.
    stop ruining the fire department.