VirginiaFirePix.com photo of retired Hamilton VFD engine officials say was used in joyride. More apparatus photos from VirginiaFirePix.com can be found here.
UPATE at 6:08 PM: Evening news reports indicate that the four volunteer firefighter passengers on the rig are a 19-year-old female, a police officer in Leesburg and two who are volunteers in positions of authority in Loudoun County.
UPDATE at 2:30 PM: Loudoun County Fire-Rescue Chief W. Keith Brower, Jr. and Fire-Rescue Commission Chair Douglas G. Rambo will be answering reporter’s questions this afternoon about the incident Saturday morning. The department issued a press release shortly after 2:00 PM that added some new information. Here are excerpts (there is a link above to read the entire release):
Early Saturday morning, a deputy with the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office witnessed a retired fire engine owned by the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Company operating in a dangerous manner. Upon learning that there were no active fire incidents in the Hamilton area, the deputy stopped the engine. After a subsequent investigation, it was determined that all five off-duty volunteer firefighters in the engine were intoxicated. The driver, a volunteer with the Hamilton Fire Company, was arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Unauthorized Use of Vehicle. The other four occupants of the truck were released to an officer of the fire company.
The volunteer members of the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Company involved in this incident have resigned. Two volunteers from other companies who were riding in the truck have been suspended while the internal investigation of this matter continues.
The County’s Fire and Rescue Commission, the Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management, and the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Company are grateful for the prompt action of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. The behavior of these individuals does not represent the values of Loudoun’s fire and rescue service and will not be tolerated by any of our volunteer companies or the Department. This incident involved off-duty personnel and a retired fire engine, so fire and rescue readiness was not jeopardized.
At 2:00 Saturday morning in the Hamilton, Virginia area a Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputy spotted a truck weaving on Harmony Church Road. It wasn’t just any truck. It was a fire engine and according to the Ashburn Patch the deputy “veered into a ditch to avoid a collision with the westbound fire truck”. The Washington Post reports the deputy’s radar indicated the rig was going about 10 mph over the 50 mph speed limit. It turns out, according to the news reports, the 1989 Pierce Lance pumper was being taken for a joyride by the 27-year-old firefighter at the wheel and four other volunteers after a night of drinking.
The vehicle, described as a spare belonging to the volunteer fire department in the Loudoun town of Hamilton, had apparently been taken on a joyride, said Investigator Vincent DiBenedetto, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.
After checking for fire calls, the deputy turned his car around and stopped the truck.
Officials of the Hamilton department could not be reached immediately. DiBenedetto said the 1989 truck was not the one kept at the ready at the firehouse to answer alarms.
Sean Richard Swanson, 27, a volunteer with Loudoun Fire Co. 5 was given a series of field sobriety tests and placed under arrest.
Deputies released the other passengers – all Loudoun fire and rescue volunteers who the Sheriff’s Office reported were drinking – to a sober driver following the incident. Deputies released the truck to a supervisor with the Hamilton fire station.
The Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate and will work with the Commonwealth’s Attorney to consider additional charges.