ATLANTA – An Atlanta firefighter faces a suspension this week for attempting to save an elderly woman from her burning home last June.
Fire Captain Daniel Thomas Dwyer was assigned to the search team as other firefighters were attacking the blaze. However, he decided to risk his life to rescue Sallie Skrine, 95, from the burning building, according to WXIA-TV.
Dwyer was able to rescue Skrine, but she eventually died due to her injuries.
So you might think they’d pat him on the back and say, “Nice job, better luck next time.” But no, the noteworthy actions reportedly abandoned fire policy by entering the home.
A “notice of final adverse action” complaint said the firefighter will be suspended four days because of the heroic decision that broke protocol. He is able to return on Feb. 19, according to WXIA-TV.
“You entered the structure without your crew members which is in immediate conflict with no freelancing, accountability, and maintaining crew integrity,” the complaint said.
There has always been a little professional competition between police and fire. Yet police officers and firefighters have a basic instinct to help, even at their own peril.
Fire union head Paul Gerdis said Dwyer believed that every second counted, so he made the “split-second” decision to go in, according to Fox.
“[The suspension] sends the wrong message,” he added.
“When men and women in the station hear that fire captains are going to be punished for acts of valor, it just goes against everything a firefighter swears an oath to uphold.” Gerdis said.
Dwyer is reportedly appealing the suspension signed by Atlanta Fire Chief Randall B. Slaughter. In a statement, his commander said the suspension was “designed to encourage safety and order.”
“It also seeks to establish clear expectations in both emergency and non-emergency situations. At this time it would be inappropriate to publicly discuss individual disciplinary cases that have not been totally resolved. The City of Atlanta has a process in place where each employee is afforded the opportunity to appeal proposed adverse disciplinary actions with the Civil Service Review Board, he said, according to WXIA-TV.
The fire command also ordered his pay docked 48 hours, according to FOX 5 Atlanta.
Punishing a first responder for an act of valor sends the wrong message, even if the person stepped over the bounds of policy. This decision reeks of bureaucracy. There are non-punitive ways to handle this situation. Perhaps the fire chief should take into account the guilt and remorse the captain would carry if he failed to act.