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UPDATED – Battalion chief handcuffed after refusing to move fire engine used to shield first responders on California freeway. CHP calls incident 'regrettable and embarrasing'.

CA CHP handcuffed

 Image of handcuffed battalion chief (on guardrail) from Firefighter Close Calls.

From the AP:

The California Highway Patrol is investigating why a firefighter was handcuffed for refusing to move a fire engine from a freeway in Santa Barbara County.

CHP Capt. Jeff Sgobba says the incident on Feb. 15 was rare, regrettable and embarrassing.

The confrontation took place in Montecito when CHP officers responded to a freeway crash that caused minor injuries.

Sgobba says arriving Montecito firefighters blocked the fast lane with an engine to shield responding authorities from traffic.


Sgobba says a CHP officer ordered the rig moved and handcuffed a fire battalion chief who refused. The firefighter was released when a CHP supervisor arrived a short time later.

No charges have been filed.

Billy Goldfeder at The Secret List has more details and says a ticket was issued:

The crash occurred on the center divide, there were 2 vehicles involved, 6 patients, 1 known minor injury. The squad crew pulled past the fire engine, then it blocks the lane to provide a safe working area, (per FD SOP). Before we go further, it should be noted that the MFD normally have-and are quite proud of-the excellent relationship they enjoy daily with the CHP and area law enforcement officers. This is an isolated and rare incident.

At this point the recently assigned (very new to that area) CHP officer tells the Battalion Chief that the apparatus cannot block the lane because it will cause too much traffic backup, and to move the rig. The Battalion Chief tells him no, that he needs his crew protected until they take up from the run. About one minute from the time the BC goes on scene, the BC is now on the radio asking for a CHP supervisor to be sent to the scene. Next thing the crew saw was the CHP officer handcuffing/arresting the Battalion Chief.

At this point, the Firefighters had not even made patient contact yet. The CHP officer then goes to the Fire Captain and tells him the same thing, move the engine or “I am going to arrest you and the (Fire Engineer) as well”. Then the CHP Officer called for a heavy tow truck to tow the fire apparatus off the freeway.

The Fire Captain finally gave in as the fire dispatcher warned him that the heavy tow was 2 minutes out. Within a few minutes, the CHP officers supervisor showed up and un-cuffed the Battalion Chief. The original arresting officer then went back over to the Battalion Chief and gave him an “obstructing a police officer with an investigation ticket”.

Turns out the CHP officer just transferred from Bakersfield to that area less than 2 weeks ago. The picture on our home page is the Battalion Chief sitting handcuffed against the center guardrail. The ticket still stands and they haven’t heard what is up with the CHP officer, but he never backed down. It seemed like he never felt like he did anything wrong. Seeya in Court.

So now, what is the next thing that should happen? Why, naturally, someone in the “public safety community” almost always attempts to “take the edge off” (lighten up the situation). Sooooo, some fun-loving Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputies stopped by the firehouse right after that incident with 2 cakes, and one had a file in it.  Are those SBSO Deputies funny or what!?

On a more serious note. the CHP Night watch Sergeant came over to the firehouse too and couldn’t apologize enough. We’re pretty sure this will be taken care of-both short term and long term.

CA CHP handcuff

The original story was done by the Santa Barbara News-Press. You will be required to register and log-in to read it.

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