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A volunteer firefighter claims a career firefighter attacked him while they were both responding to a house fire in Berwyn Heights, Maryland.
It’s the second time such an assault has been reported in recent years: Two volunteer firefighters were acquitted in May of attacking two career firefighters in a 2015 incident.
Berwyn Heights Police Chief Kenneth Antolik confirmed that “my detective is investigating second-degree assault” in the Berwyn Heights incident Sunday afternoon. Antolik said he expects his department’s findings on the assault allegation will be forwarded to the county State’s Attorney’s Office by next week.
On Monday, Antolik said, a volunteer firefighter reporting back pain called police and said a career firefighter attacked him at the fire scene on Sunday on Ruatan Street, near Greenbelt Road and Route 201, at about 1:30 p.m.
Both firefighters have been removed from emergency operations pending an internal investigation, said Prince George’s County Fire and EMS spokesman Mark Brady.
Brady acknowledges a long history of tension between career and volunteers in the county, but said it’s too early to say what sparked Sunday’s altercation.
“I would not necessarily put a label on this incident, as of yet,” Brady said. “Some type of altercation between two firefighters is the exception, and is not the rule.”
He added that tensions between career and volunteer firefighters “have gotten better — a lot better — over time.”
Chief Antolik said the dispute among people sharing the same mission is disturbing and unprofessional.
“Regardless of whether they’re volunteers or career, they have a profession,” Antolik said. “Protect the citizens of Prince George’s County and put out the fire.”
Brady said the incident had no effect on the efforts to extinguish the fire.
A volunteer firefighter accused a career firefighter of an assault when they should have been fighting a house fire Sunday afternoon.
Firefighters quickly controlled a smoky blaze on Ruatan Street in Berwyn Heights, Maryland, but afterward, a volunteer complained about being pushed by a Prince George’s County Fire and EMS officer during an argument.
“There was definitely a visible disagreement on the front patio, but I couldn’t hear anything,” said a neighbor who asked to remain anonymous. “But you could tell they were getting into some type of argument.”
“Kind of like a little nudge and such,” neighbor Caitlin Goforth said. “Not punching or kicking or anything like that.”
“Based on our zero tolerance with workplace violence, both of those firefighters were removed from emergency operations immediately, and an investigation is now ongoing as to what exactly occurred and what should happen – is any additional disciplinary action required,” Prince George’s County Fire and EMS spokesman Mark Brady said.
ey were acquitted after a week-long trial.
Prince George’s County Fire Chief Ben Barksdale said their should be no difference between in how career and volunteer firefighters are valued.