Twelve Montgomery volunteer firefighters suspended
Twelve volunteer firefighters from the same Rockville station have been suspended after late-night incursions this week into an apartment building's recreation room and fire department warehouse, Montgomery County officials said Friday morning.
In the latest incident, which took place shortly after midnight Friday morning, three firefighters were arrested on charges related to theft and illegal entry, said Assistant Fire Chief Scott Graham.
"When things like this happen, it's a black eye for the whole department," he said.
The names of the three charged weren't immediately released, but Rockville Police Maj. Bob Rappoport said they were all juveniles.
Graham said they tripped an alarm at a warehouse on Dover Road, prompting police from Rockville and Montgomery County to respond. Police officers recovered everything that had been taken from the scene, Graham said
"It appears that they were caught inside the building," said Rappoport. "They were stockpiling goods."
Graham dismissed the notion the firefighters could have simply needed more supplies, saying the department properly outfits all its stations.
"There's no need for anyone for any reason to break in," he said. "All they have to do is fill out the forms."
"It's not proper procurement procedure," Graham added.
Eric Bernard, president of the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
In the earlier incident, nine volunteers from the station made "an illegal entry" into an apartment complex's community room on Maryland Avenue in Rockville -- apparently to play pool or table tennis -- on Tuesday night, Graham said.
He said he didn't know if alcohol played a factor in either incident.
No charges have been filed by police in the community room incident, Rappoport said.
Graham said the station, which is staffed by volunteers and paid firefighters, has enough volunteers to maintain adequate staffing levels even after the suspensions. He said the actions of the dozen does not impugn volunteers in general. "It's a personal issue," he said.
This item has been updated since it was first published.
-- Dan Morse
March 12, 2010; 3:24 PM ET
Categories: Dan Morse , Maryland , Montgomery
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