Bay District Suspends, Expels Some Firefighters

By Guy Leonard, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Nov. 27, 2008)—A vote of the membership of the Bay District Volunteer Fire Department Nov. 17 has resulted in the suspension of four firefighters and the expulsion of an equal number from the ranks of the department for violations of its rules.

Doug Medley, public information officer for companies 3 and 9, said the vote came after the department’s leadership brought a dozen firefighters up on charges of misconduct following a brawl that involved alcohol consumption on the grounds of the Lexington Park station last month.

Four firefighters out of the original 12 were exonerated by vote of the membership last week, Medley said.

Other violations that resulted in suspensions or expulsions from the department included allowing non-members into restricted areas of the firehouse, Medley said.

“We try to be fairly strict on that policy,” Medley told The County Times. “Some of the ones who were dropped were repeat offenders.”

The consumption of alcohol on the premises of Co. 3, which helped precipitate the fight between a firefighter and a member of the community at what started out as a barbeque, is strictly forbidden, Medley said.

Members, by their Nov. 17 vote, drove home the point that drinking on the job would not be tolerated.

“They start thinking they’re supermen, they have a few drinks and they get on an apparatus,” Medley said. “We can’t allow that.”

Medley said one firefighter in particular, who was allegedly responsible for the assault, was one of the members expelled.

The evidence against that firefighter was irrefutable, Medley said.

“All this was on video,” Medley said. “There was no question who was involved.”

The expulsion of firefighters Medley said were repeat offenders has actually had the effect of improving morale.

“A lot of the members were intimidated by some of these guys, by them trying to look tough,” Medley said. “They broke the limit and they paid the consequences.

“We’ve taken care of business.”

Bay District Volunteer Fire Department is the busiest in the county, with first due responsibility for Great Mills, Lexington Park and California.

They are 100 percent volunteer and have two stations located in Great Mills and Lexington Park.

One firefighter, who wished to remain anonymous, agreed that things at Bay District had improved since the leadership disciplined the alleged offenders.

“They got in trouble, they left and things started to clean up over there,” the firefighter said. “I think it’s about time they got suspended.”

One firefighter remains on suspension, Medley said, for driving a fire department apparatus with a suspended license, though the firefighter apparently did not know that his license was suspended.

The firefighter immediately attempted to correct the license problem when he became aware of it, Medley said.

His suspension will continue however, Medley said, because he had also been found guilty of allowing unauthorized visitors into the upstairs lounge area of the firehouse.

“We just want to move on,” Medley said of trying to repair the damage the incidents caused. “We don’t want to jeopardize our good name in the community.”

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