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Firefighter handcuffed while helping victims of the car accident, local reaction

Fire trucks select the most appropriate spot to provide service and safety.
Fire trucks select the most appropriate spot to provide service and safety.
Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images

In what may have been a political dispute, power play or priority difference between fire and police, The Blaze reported yesterday about a firefighter in California that was handcuffed while attending to the victims of a serious automobile accident.

CBS news in Los Angeles the officer told 12-year veteran firefighter Jacob Gregoire, “We asked you to clear the road, you said ‘No.’ You are being arrested for not moving.”

Chula Vista Fire Chief Dave Hanneman told the Union-Tribune of San Diego, “I know clearing the freeway is a priority for the CHP, our No. 1 priority is the safety of our firefighters and patients.”

Hanneman said the engine was strategically located in the center lane because fire department procedure calls for using the engine as a blocking device for oncoming traffic thereby creating a safer environment for the firefighters and victims.

Disputes and priorities between police officers and fire departments are not uncommon according to a high-ranking firefighter in Warren, Mich. He said he was ticketed many years ago for parking too close to a fire hydrant. Speaking anonymously he indicated the police officer was apparently bothered by the fact that the fire department had received a better contract than the police department.

“It boils down to politics,” he said. “When political leaders allow a rivalry between firefighters and police officers to escalate this type of behavior they do a disservice to the community.”

Although it seems preposterous a fire engine could be ticketed for parking too close to a hydrant apparently, according the firefighter interviewed, fire trucks have no special dispensation regarding traffic laws in the state of Michigan.

"Like everybody else," the firefighter said, "We must follow the law."

Sources: The Blaze, U-T San Diego, CBS in Los Angeles and personal interview.

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