It was May 1 of this year at 3:00 in the morning when Orange County, Fire Rescue Engine 58 was responding to a reported car crash with entrapment. Along the way the fire engine came quite close to a Cadillac that didn't yield to the emergency vehicle. After doing so the fire engine hit the median and was damaged. Chief Carl Plaugher told WFTV-TV he had no choice but to discipline the driver and officer after being alerted to video from the rig's Drive-cam.
Lt. Thomas Veal, who was called a hero after his actions at a Christmas Day fire, has been demoted. Fire officials say Veal, now a firefighter, was reduced in rank because he failed to properly supervise the driver, was not wearing his seatbelt (reported to be a second infraction for Veal) and he flipped the bird to the driver of the car.
Engineer David Jordan was fired for putting the community and the firefighters on his rig at risk.
Speaking to WESH-TV, Felix Benitez, an IAFF Local 1365 trustee, said, "We have to be the professionals and the calm ones. We need to be cautious when getting to an emergency, so we don't create another emergency."
According to Division Chief Vince Preston, "We felt it was so egregious that ah, the driver really in an act of road rage really was unacceptable so he was dismissed and the Lieutenant was demoted".
On May 1st, a drive camera positioned on and in the Fire Engine No. 58 shows the driver of the fire truck getting close to a vehicle in front of him. Officials say the fire truck engineer who was driving made an aggressive move, pushing the car almost off the road, then taking the fire truck up a median.
Investigators said Jordan nearly hits the car several times, even though he has room to go around the car.
The car then gets into the left turn lane, which investigators said, by law it should have pulled off on the right shoulder and stopped for the emergency vehicle. Still, the right two lanes are clear for the fire truck to pass. Instead, Jordan swerves left, cutting off the car, so the lieutenant can flip off the driver, fire officials said.
Fire officials said the fire truck hit a curb after nearly hitting the car, which could have caused a crash and injured or killed the four firefighters on board and people nearby.
“It's a very strong case of we're not going to tolerate that here,” said Morrow.
Jordan had been with the fire department for 22 years and Veal had been with the department for 10. To make matters worse for Veal, officials said he wasn't wearing his seat belt and that was the second time the cameras caught him without one in a year's time.
The firefighters have until Monday to appeal the firing and demotion, officials said.