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S.C. Volunteer Firefighters Arrested After Scuffle with Sheriff, Deputy

February 18, 2014  | 

The West Chester (S.C.) Volunteer Fire Department chief and his brother spent Saturday night in the Chester County jail after being arrested by sheriff’s deputies following a scuffle with the sheriff and other officers at the scene of an overturned truck Friday afternoon.

Police allege the firefighters yelled obscenities at Sheriff Alex Underwood and other officers and pushed them in a dispute over traffic control at the crash scene on S.C. 9 west of Chester, the Rock Hill Herald reports.

Chief Andy Martin, 57, and volunteer firefighter Tommy Martin, 61, were charged with assault. They were arrested at their homes at about 8 p.m. Saturday, kept in jail overnight and released on personal recognizance bonds after appearing before Magistrate Dianne Moore Sunday morning, police and court records show.

The altercation over whether the highway should have been closed and who was in charge has both sides pointing fingers at the other for how the situation was handled.

Comments (17)

Displaying 1 - 17 of 17

EODK9Trainer @ 2/18/2014 3:38 PM

Jeez, not again.

Big @ 2/18/2014 7:23 PM

I thought this nonsense only happend in California. I am sure there will be enough stupidly to go around to both sides.

Hoshi @ 2/18/2014 7:34 PM

California cop for 32years, Texas volunteer fireman for past 5years. The troopers here in our very rural area let us handle scene safety. Of course there is usually only one trooper and maybe a deputy sheriff so they welcome our help. Plus, we are very well trained in traffic control.

S.S. @ 2/19/2014 5:19 AM

Gotta disagree with you Hoshi. The officers are the ones who decide what needs to be shut down. Period. Especially involving any kind of fatalities or injured persons. The fire dept. who are nothing but glorified boyscouts, should tend to the injured and if need be block off traffic where the officers tell them too. That's it!

JTBWCAW @ 2/19/2014 6:10 AM

Sorry S.S., I have to disagree with you.
First, since 1981 I've been: USMC (6), Security (10+), State LE (16+), Volunteer Fire, & EMS (10+); with that, scene safety and incident command usually falls to Fire/EMS when they're actively engaged in “more than” just a standby mode; depending on the situation, of course.
Second, EMS falls under the purview of the DOT (Federal).
Third, both sides should work together to accomplish the primary mission, patient’s/victim’s care.
Lastly, you throw around personal insults "glorified boyscouts"... it'd be the same if someone labeled you a rent-a-cop or glorified security guard. In that, LE has arrest powers, and when one stoops to that as a last resort of exercising one’s authority/ego… they’ve actually lost control of their power.
Oh, not to mention that the situation was so egregious that they were arrested later at their home…

JTBWCAW @ 2/19/2014 6:11 AM

Also, S.S.; in my USMC, Security, & LE training, you are required to have thicker skin than to take issue with some obscenities.
The bickering needs to stop, teamwork needs to start, or clarification needs to be implemented!

Azrider @ 2/19/2014 6:38 AM

I was a Cop for 30 years in a major city in AZ and am currently in the Sheriffs Possee. if Fireman could just get past their self thought arrogance they are the heroes of America and make even a small attempt at humility these situations wouldn't happen.LEO's have arrest powers not fireman.

JTBWCAW @ 2/19/2014 7:44 AM

I doubt Assrider, oops Azrider… has much LE experience or education. Nearly everyone (if not everyone) has powers of arrest for the crimes they witness or for felonies they reasonably believe have happened... Being in the USMC, LE, and Fire/EMS (Oh, and Boy Scout Leader for many years) I believe we all do what we do for the citizens we serve. I'd place the few instances of Fire and EMS "self thought arrogance they are the heroes of America " over the few instances of LE egomania any day; though both need to be checked.

Johnny Law @ 2/19/2014 12:08 PM

I have been a Police Officer for 15 yrs and a firefighter for 20. We all need to work together to accomplish the goal = Public Service! Having been on both sides i have seen egos cause issues on a few scenes. Overall we have a pretty good working relationship with the FD. We handle traffic control, accident investigation etc. at the scences and Fire/EMS take care of the victims and patients. Everyone does what they are trained to do and there is seldom a problem. When one oversteps their authority problems arise.

Ima Leprechaun @ 2/19/2014 3:39 PM

Any scene involving the Fire Department or EMS puts those units in charge of the scene. Law Enforcement is there to protect the safety of emergency personnel and the victims of whatever emergency is present. If I have to shut off a four lane freeway to protect victims and/or emergency personnel then traffic can wait. We work together as best we can but we do so for the safety of emergency personnel and victims first, traffic can wait. Same thing too if Military personnel are involved such as the crash of a Military jet, the Military is in charge, Law Enforcement is there to assist the Military and protect lives.

Johnny Law @ 2/20/2014 8:31 AM

Leprachaun you make me chuckle! Don't know what state you are from, but in my state Law Enforcement shuts down a highway, not a volunteer fire fighter. We are trained in traffic control as well as accident investigation and we handle those duties. Fire/EMS take care of victim extracation, patient care and safety issues such as a possible fire or leaking flammable liquids. We work together very well. In firefighter training that I received we never had a class on traffic control, but I did as a LEO.

NC Cop @ 2/20/2014 8:59 PM

LEO's are in charge of crash scenes because they are the investigating agency and have arrest powers. Fire and EMS are support agencies.

For JTBWCAW, NC residents have no authority to make a "citizen's arrest".

This sounds like egos were in play on both sides and Tac Comm wasn't used to resolve the situation.

Brian @ 2/23/2014 8:53 AM

Regarding a traffic accident, as this is what the article is TN the responding fire department has control of the scene, until it is determined if the accident is property damage only or injury involved. If property damage only, the scene is turned over to the responding law enforcement agency to work the wreck. Speaking for my department only, normally in this instance the FD will ask if we need them to stand-by to keep traffic off of us while we continue to work the wreck. However, if the accident involves injury the fire units retain control of the scene until all of the injured are treated/transported. Again, speaking for my department only, we are not trained in vehicle rescue/extrication. We are there as law enforcement only and that means, we are there to make the accident report, cite and/or arrest as needed.

sanchvilla @ 3/3/2014 7:27 AM

arrogance has no place in either line of work which you can see on both sides.
(pride come before the fall)

David Eder @ 3/19/2014 4:44 PM

I have been a LEO for over 25 years the last 16 as Chief. I also have been a Volunteer Fire Fighter for over 25 years the last 20 as Chief. I find it somewhat sad that either agency can not call a time out and and let cooler heads come to an understanding. In my State Fire runs the show on Accident scenes with injury and turns over scene as soon as possible. Our trucks protect all safety professionals on scene and LEO vehicles move up and take traffic control when subjects are transported. I have in the past had to deal with this pissing contest and had both children sent to a corner for time out. Because that is just what they both look like CHILDREN! oh, I live in Virginia.

Austin Acker @ 4/28/2014 9:35 AM

I don't know how it operates out there but in my area the fire chief or deputy chief has control over the traffic due to the matter that we are the ones working the scene and not the police. due to the classes that we take in traffic control and radio communications we firefighters are perfectly capable of controlling the traffic at a scene and parking our engines.

Mike O @ 5/3/2014 9:35 AM

Here's an easy policy to prevent conflicts like this... If EITHER the police officer in charge at the scene OR the Firefighter in charge at the scene (i.e. incident commander) determine that the road should be closed - THE ROAD IS CLOSED. Period. When both agree that traffic can safely traverse the scene, the road gets re-opened. Period. It's that simple. I'm not sure why municipalities and states don't adopt this simple, two rule algorithm.

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