Firefighter Arrested by CHP? No, Only Briefly Handcuffed

February 6, 2014 Updated: February 6, 2014

A firefighter was reportedly arrested by police after he failed to move a fire truck immediately after police asked him to.

In reality, the firefighter, Jacob Gregoire, was handcuffed and held for about 30 minutes but was not arrested.

Crews were helping victims after a car overturned Tuesday night on Interstate 805. One person was taken to a hospital.

Chula Vista Fire Chief Dave Hanneman said that a fire engine was parked behind an ambulance for safety reasons when a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer demanded it be moved out of traffic lanes. The firefighter said he’d check with his captain but was told to move it immediately or face arrest.

KFMB-TV video showed the firefighter being handcuffed. He was briefly held in a patrol car but not arrested.

The highway patrol hasn’t released the officer’s name or said whether he has faced disciplinary action over the situation.

CHP and fire officials met Wednesday to discuss the incident.

The patrol and the fire department released a joint statement after meeting:

“Last night there was an unfortunate incident at the scene of a traffic collision on I-805, where both our agencies had responded. Both the CHP and the Chula Vista Fire Department share a common goal of protecting the public and providing the highest level of safety to responding emergency personnel, involved parties and other drivers at collision scenes.

“Both of our agencies have the utmost respect for each other and our respective missions. This was an isolated incident and not representative of the manner in which our agencies normally work together toward our common goal.

“This morning representatives from both agencies met to discuss the incident to improve communication and ensure the highest level of service is provided to the public. This incident will be a topic of future joint training sessions, in an ongoing effort to work more efficiently together.”

Phil Constantine works for CBS 8 but previously worked for the patrol for 20 years.

“That is legal — you can tell someone to move the vehicle. Whether it’s justified, I can’t comment on,” Constantine said, referring to what happened.

There are no rules but only guidelines for agencies working together at scenes. 

“Basically you have to do what is reasonable and prudent,” Constantine said.

Hanneman said that Gregoire did the right thing.

“I’m very proud of Jacob. He did a good job,” said Hess. “He made all firefighters look good. He was there to protect the citizens and he was willing to take a stand to do that.”

Stuart Adams, the attorney for the fire department, said in a statement: “When our office received the e mail link to the news footage of the arrest and viewed the story, every jaw literally dropped. When law enforcement and fire get to a scene, they are all about the common business of protecting the victims and the crews present. I have never seen anything like it. But I know that the whole story is not yet out so we shall see what a full investigation reveals before taking any position on the matter.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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