EMS union prez isn’t buying fire chief’s explanation of cutting at firehouse

DC fire officials insist there is nothing more to the stabbing at the Georgetown firehouse Tuesday night than “negligent horseplay”. Now, Kenneth Lyons, president of the union representing civilian EMS workers in the District of Columbia tells STATter 911 he isn’t buying the official explanation of the incident that was outlined in a statement by DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Dennis Rubin.

Lyons identifies the injured man as Ed McLaughlin, an 18-year member of the department, who is currently an EMT-Advanced. Lyons says McLaughlin was not participating in horseplay before or after Lt. Lawrence Clark pulled out a knife. Clark was at the quarters of Engine 5 to pick up his gear for an overtime shift at Truck 5, stationed at the Palisades firehouse.

Whatever the motive, no one disputes that it was Clark who was swinging the knife in McLaughlin’s direction on the front ramp of the station. McLaughlin needed ten stitches to close a wound on the top of one of his hands.

DC Fire & EMS Department spokesman Alan Etter said that McLaughlin did not wish to press charges and that police did not arrest Lt. Clark. Lyons claims that McLaughlin is likely to swear out a warrant for assault on Friday.

Lyons is upset over what he says was a delay by Lt. Clark’s bosses in placing Clark on administrative leave. According to Lyons, Clark was still working at Truck 5 for a few hours after the incident.

In Wednesday’s statement Chief Rubin wrote, “two of our employees were involved in what has been characterized at this point as ‘negligent horseplay’ by investigating law enforcement”. He continued, “One of the employees, both of whom were on-duty, brandished a small knife and in the course of this ‘playing around’, cut the other individual across the hand”.

According to Lyons, Ed McLaughlin told both the battalion chief and deputy chief who initially looked into the incident there was no horseplay.

Contacted Wednesday evening, department officials stood by the statement issued earlier in the day.