Four Flagler Beach firefighters have been placed on paid administrative leave in response to accusations of consuming alcohol on the job in December, according to city documents.
An investigation is currently under way into the allegations that Chief Martin Roberts and Fire Captain of Fire Police Steve Wood drank alcohol at a holiday party Dec. 14, before responding to fire calls.
Assistant Fire Chief Shane Wood and firefighter Jason Bissonette are both accused of drinking Dec. 25, while at the fire station.
The investigation is expected to take about two weeks, after which appropriate action will be taken based on the city’s findings, said City Manager Bruce Campbell.
Six members of the Flagler Beach Fire Department submitted written allegations against the four on leave, the documents said. Robert Pace is serving as the acting fire chief until the investigation is completed.
According to the written statements given by fire department personnel, firefighters witnessed Steve Wood and Roberts drinking Dec. 14, before taking a call in reference to a structure fire in north Flagler Beach later that evening. One of the statements, whose authors’ names are being withheld by the city, said he or she was disappointed to see the two men agree to respond to the fire after drinking.
Another statement recounted seeing Shane Wood and Bissonette drinking apple moonshine in the station’s kitchen while still in their uniforms on Christmas.
Then, the statement said, “Capt. (Steve) Wood said he was headed to Shane (Wood)’s house to drink beer. Capt. Wood also stated that he would be listening for any significant call and would be responding.”
A third statement recounts how several firefighters had spoken to Roberts about their concerns that Steve Wood responded to a fire while under the influence of alcohol.
“Chief Roberts then told us it was OK that Capt. Wood was sipping on the moonshine because he had been sipping on it, too,” the statement says. “Chief Roberts also said he felt fine when responding to the fire and there was nothing to worry about.”
The author of the statement said he or she did not feel safe knowing that firefighters were responding to calls after drinking. Several of the statements expressed concern that drinking around the fire department would become common.
“It’s challenging enough being sober and responding to emergency calls at night with decreased visibility and the emergency lights making it even harder to see,” a statement reads.
Attorney Daniel W. Langley is investigating the accusations against the fire department personnel.