In Hampden County, Massachusetts, five call firefighters were arrested last night. They have been charged wih fires in vacant buildings in Brimfield and Holland. All five entered pleas of not guilty.
No one was hurt in the three fires in June and July, but the alleged actions of the five young men drew denunciations from their chiefs, State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Hampden District Attorney William M. Bennett said today.
“The conduct of these defendants is outrageous,” Bennett said in a statement today. “Their callous disregard for the safety of the community and the safety of the dedicated firefighters who had to respond to the scene of the fires is shocking. It is a very sad day when people pledged to serve the public become a serious danger to the public.”
Robert McCarthy, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, the union which represents 12,000 career firefighters in the state — not call firefighters — had harsh words for the accused men.
“I’m shocked. It’s tragic,” he said in a telephone interview. “As far as I’m concerned, they should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
Jennifer Mieth, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Fire Services, said the firefighters did help put out the three fires but she could not say whether the men started the fires so they could get paid.
“A firefighter accused of deliberately setting fires betrays the public’s trust and destroys the credibility of the fire service,” state Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said in a statement. “It is also a betrayal of the trust firefighters need to place in one another to see that everyone goes home at the end of the day.”
Charged with burning of a building are:
– Patrick K. Elliott, 19, of 12 Power Station Road, Charlton, a call firefighter with the Brimfield Fire Department.
– Brian S. Findlay, 18, of 85 Armatage Road, Ashford, Conn., a call firefighter with the Brimfield and Holland fire departments.
– Jordan R. Frank, 18, of 19 Cross St., West Brookfield, a call firefighter with the Brimfield Fire Department.
– Dylan J. Lajeunesse, 18, of 21 Union Road, Holland, a call firefighter with the Holland Fire Department.
– Donald C. Moores, 20, of 3 Forest Drive, Brimfield, a call firefighter with the Brimfield and Holland fire departments.
Holland Fire Chief Paul Foster said: “Unfortunately the actions of these five young men gives the entire fire service a black eye, which is unfair to the decent, honest members of the Holland and Brimfield Fire Departments who volunteer their time away from their families to properly train and respond to emergencies to protect their neighbors at all hours of the day or night.”