Firefighters state cases in drinking on job accusations

3 Flagler Beach firefighters, city employee to find out fates next week

Published On: Feb 08 2013 03:49:31 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 08 2013 06:10:00 PM EST
Flagler Co. firefighers suspended
BUNNELL, Fla. -

Three Flagler County firefighters and a city employee are accused of drinking alcohol on the job will find out if they'll be fired early next week.

All four sat down with the Flagler city manager Friday alongside their attorneys in a closed-door meeting.

The Flagler Beach fire chief and his assistant chief are accused of drinking, driving and responding to a fire while intoxicated. Two other firefighters on staff are accused of drinking apple pie moonshine while on duty.

Some are surprised all of them are getting support from the community to keep their jobs.

Despite the warnings not to allow his firefighters to respond to a fire after consuming alcohol, Flagler Fire Chief Martin Roberts allowed Assistant Chief Shane Wood to operate a tower truck after drinking five beers, according to an independent investigation conducted by a law firm hired by Flagler Beach City Hall. The chief himself had drank a few glasses of wine when both were called into action, according to the investigation.

City Manager Bruce Campbell refused to interview with Channel 4 on Friday, saying he was in meetings about the issue all afternoon.

Investigators said that on Dec. 14, both Roberts and Wood were attending a Christmas party at a bar when the house fire call came in.

Investigators called the chief's decision to respond "poor judgment and evidence of a lack of organizational control within the department."

Still, many locals are coming to the firefighters' defense.

"As long as they performed their job and did what they were paid to do, I have no problem with it once or ever," resident Shawn Wilson said.

"I think there should be some forgiveness. It was a Christmas party and he answered the call, nothing happened," resident Todd Cornelius said.

The allegations within the department don't stop there. Investigators outline a separate incident involving homemade liquor.

The independent investigation also reveals that two firefighters drank moonshine and stored it in a refrigerator at the station.

Investigators said firefighter Jason Bissonnette purchased moonshine from another firefighter in the station parking lot, and both he and sanitation employee Steve Wood reportedly took a sip while on duty.

All four on Friday stated their case to the city manager, who will ultimately decide if they'll be fired.