The handcuffing a Southern California firefighter at an accident scene has prompted a strong reaction among other emergency personnel across the U.S., specifically one 18-year veteran firefighter.
A California Highway Patrol officer detained the firefighter at the crash scene along Interstate 805 near Telegraph Canyon Road Tuesday night.
A car had rolled through construction, injuring two people. Chula Vista Fire Engineer Jacob Gregoire was detained after refusing to move Fire Engine 52 which was protecting medics working the scene.
The firefighter, who we'll call Allen, wished not to be identified to avoid retribution but was compelled to give his take on what happened to Gregoire.
“It is shocking that the safety of a citizen or those of us rendering aid would be put in jeopardy just to have a lane in the freeway open,” Allen said.
Over fire communications you here another firefighter reporting what was happening.
"This is ridiculous. CHP is arresting Engineer Gregoire for where he spotted the fire engine. We're in the middle of patient care with patients on the freeway and we're trying to protect our scene," one of the firefighters said on the scanner.
Allen said an arrest or detention is rare but friction between departments does occur because CHP has the added responsibility of getting the highway open as soon as possible. It can create a conflict of commitment.
“I would go to jail. I would definitely stand up and make a stand for the safety of my crew,” Allen said.
Despite going into burning buildings, Allen said working on the highway is the most dangerous job of firefighters.
Unfortunate as this incident was, he says better communication between jurisdictions is the likely outcome.
The CHP and Chula Vista Fire chiefs released a join statement Wednesday afternoon, calling the incident unfortunate and saying it was isolated and not representative of how the two agencies usually work together.
The chiefs said this incident will be the topic of a future joint training session.
Gregoire, 36, is a 12-year veteran of the Chula Vista Fire Department.