Virginia Firefighter Arrested For Drunken Fire Engine Joyride; Drunk Passengers Turned Over To Supervisor

Reprinted with Permission

LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA (WUSA) - A spokesperson for the Loudoun County Sheriffs'Department says that a late night joyride in a fire truck led to the arrest early Saturday morning of a volunteer firefighter.

The spokesperson says that on March 5, 2011, shortly after 2:00 AM, Sean Richard Swanson, 27, a volunteer firefighter with Co. 5 in Hamilton, was driving the company's 1989 Pierce Lance pumper truck eastbound on Harmony Church Rd (Rt 704) near Canby Rd (Rt 662) at a high rate of speed.

A Loudoun patrol deputy heading toward the truck had to veer into the ditch to avoid a collision. The deputy turned around and stopped the vehicle at Woodburn Rd (Rt 769).

According to the spokesperson, Swanson was given a series of field sobriety tests and then placed under arrest. He was transported to the Loudoun Adult Detention Center, where he was charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle. Later in the afternoon he was released on his own recognizance.

The Sheriff's Office says there were four additional passengers in the fire truck, all of them identified as volunteers within the Loudoun Co. Fire-Rescue system. All four had been drinking. They were released to a sober driver and the truck was released to a supervisor from the fire company.

The incident remains under investigation. Deputies will consult with the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office to consider any additional charges.

Tags: STATTer911, alcohol, legal issues, public image

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Oh boy!!!!
These are the type of f'in idiots that make the rest of us look like retards.He just creates a stereotype and we can't seem to shake.pisses me off!!!
no ecuses, no 2nd chance, turn in your gear, Vol work hard engough to gain the respect of other FD's, this can not be tolerated. A hugh black eye to the Fire service. Putting the public at risk, whom you are supposed to be there to protect. And that goes for all involed.
Nice going, you morons....
What the frack were you thinking?
Oh yeah.. you weren't.
The chief must be so proud of you he gave you the rest of your days off. Your so bright your momma called you son.
I won't even mention there was a cop and a minor on board...
Heh heh heh, I am not at all surprised. Really, not at all, other than they didn't hit (and kill someone), no surprise.
Do a little digging and find more than one incident involving Loudoun County firefighters. You guys are giving rednecks a bad name!
Yes there has been a couple of incidents involving Loudoun County volunteers. In the past, only thing handed down to them were suspensions, then they were back in the saddle again. One previous incident resulted in resignations before any punishments were handed down. Luckily, some county fire officials grew a set of nuts and said those involved were not allowed to apply for membership at any volunteer fire company in the county.

There has always been a different set of standards for county career firefighters, and volunteers with the VFDs within the county. In the past, do something wrong on the career side, and it's termination, do something wrong on the volunteer side, like give the nearly killing a patient, mishandle a fire scene, it's no big deal. Just a learning experience.

Hopefully now the county will start to hold career and volunteers to the same standards. No matter if it's training, disciplinary, etc.
I fully agree. A firefighter should be a professional both on and off duty. We are expected to hold up to a higher moral standard than everyone else because we maintain a high profile public image. People look up to us. It is part of who we are. John Doe didn't ask us to become firefighters, we chose this. If you are going to fill these boots, do so as I have done, in a respectful manner!

A victim in a car crash won't ask if you are volunteer. They will know you are a firefighter. How can you look someone in the eye who has been drinking and driving and condone their actions when you've been drinking yourself? It's part of accountability. The chief should know he doesn't need a breathalyzer ignition in his truck and the rest of us shouldn't have to blow before we go!

Quite frankly, I have grown weary of hearing the words "he's only a volunteer." One should expect exceptional performance from any firefighter doing his or her job. No buts about it. As far as training... two words... Unified training. That's what IFSTA is for. It is also how one would be judged by their peers.
Totally agree with everything said execpt for on thing...If you are a true volunteer you are never off duty. If you have your pager or radio on your side you are on duty 24/7. We take time away from the department (i.e. vacations, dinners with friends and family, etc...) that may involve social drinking, but as I said away from the department.

As everyone knows, this is not an isolated incident to Loudoun County. It happens way to often in every county. I just hope this article opens administators, chiefs, and board of directors eyes and they begin to take action to curb this type of publicity. When one of us (fire departments) are shown in a bad light, we all suffer.
Our department has a strict policy. If you've been drinking alcohol or are a medication that might alter your awareness, do not respond to calls or operate any fire department vehicles. All violations of this policy will be subject to immediate termination. This is an encompassing rule. As even one drink will impair your judgment. Thus, our zero tolerance policy. Most fire departments have this zero tolerance policy. I can't think of one that doesn't have this policy.
As far as Loudoun county; this event would be considered isolated as all five of these firefighters had been drinking. At least one of them should have said "no". Not to mention; contributing to the delinquency of minor and public intoxication. That fact that they were in the fire truck suggests that they were either on duty or had stolen the fire truck. The four passengers are now accessories to a felony. At best they all were derelict in their duties.
Don't get me wrong. I've been known to down a few now and then but, I have never responded to a call or even been on a fire truck or call while even remotely under the influence of any substance. I am also a true volunteer, that believes that this is a part of his dedication to his community and I know when I pick up that beer I am no longer 100%. That's the whole reason I think before even picking up the beer to begin with.

There's a dual meaning in the phrase "It's something we can live without..."


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