I just seen this article and thought it would make a great topic for discussion. I know it will probably be one sided being the site we are on. 

I am still learning the fire procedures and environment as a whole; so any information about departments around the country would be helpful. This is not intended to be a cop bashing posts, or start an argument. I would like to know who be in charge at your scene. 

Thank you in advance for your information.  

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Sounds good to me.... To be perfectly honest, I never knew what the law was in my State (FL) but I have to agree with what has been pretty much said here regarding the matter. We did what we did pretty much as "common sense" and not because it was dictated by law and that was... MVA w/injuries, Fire/EMS in command, MVA with no injuries Fire/LEO unified command and MVA with no injuries or chance of fire, LEO command. It's really that simple. My own personal opinion in this incident is that the Fire Chief was probably wrong and his actions onscene did not reflect any type of command what-so-ever. I saw no PPE or even anything that I could see as identification and I saw no fire apparatus onscene either. If the Chief was concerned about the possibility of fire where was his fire suppression team? I'm glad I'm retired, too much BS for this kid. Stay safe out there everyone, have a great weekend.

Chief: you have to understand that in the south its sometimes a major problem and while the common sense answer is unification of command, sometimes the badge and the gun gets in the way of common sense. what usually happens is when the hazzards are mitigated, we leave

i am still not clear on this (for florida) so if somebody knows, please post it for me and others and while i have not had any incidents like we see today, i have been involved in minor skirmishes

my company was canceled by state troopers for a car accident and we passed by the scene because its department SOP that we do not cross medians in the engine (it had rained that day so i was not going to do it anyway) back at the station so we had to pass the scene for the U turn. The trooper came by and gave me the "i am the law and when you are canceled, you dont DARE drive by my scene speech". i tried to explain that we do not cross wet medians and he wasnt buying it" and called my chief who backed me and that was that

another involves patient care: can a LEO order you not to treat a person? i got tagged for "touching a person that law enforcement declaired dead"...and the person had a pulse. they didnt recover and died a few days later but can a cop order me not to treat a person? it has happened to me three times. nothing happened because i guess smarter heads prevailed but i CMA and wrote it up anyway

anybody else have that?

In CT if the fire department is called they are in charge until the incident is terminated or command transferred.  So in this case the IC has full command and can decide whether or not to allow 'friends' to remove a vehicle (which in CT would not be allowed, it would be a tow service that removes the vehicle whether or not the driver could afford it.)  Typically we stand by until the vehicle is on the flatbed at which point it then becomes the responsibility of the tow service and we will clear.

Hi Eric, 

   We had this same problem a long time ago in south Fl , but we straighten out. When it comes down to life safety the fire department is in command of the scene. I am not here to bash cops, we are on the same team . I have been cancelled many times by the cop on Mva but I still do a drive by and they have no problem with this . You have to remember that they are not paramedic or firefighter we are, We as firefighters may see something that office does not . I would rather cover my tush, than get called back to the scene and have to enplane to the Chief why I did not go there in the first place. If the officer on scene has a problem with this he has to take this up the change of command not on the fire ground. I feel that the office made a bad judgement call on this, but we have a job to do also.We have a good working relationship with the other agency's on this matter and have many meeting on this so everybody is on the same page and understanding .



Thank you Peter,

This appears to be the similar to what a lot of the others are saying. So I see that in the event of a victim on the scene the Fire Department should remain in control. What I am confused about on this particular story is why was it such a big issue for the officer. The fire department being their does not come out of his budget, and is no skin off his nose if the fire department stays to assist with the "proper removal" of the vehicle. I can see that the officer's focus to reopen the roadway, but is it worth risking not only is own life, but others on the scene. Let's say for the sake of argument someone had gotten hurt or the vehicle erupted while the fire chief is setting in the back of a squad with attached, silver bracelets who would be liable for the injuries that could have occurred on that scene, Fire  or Sheriffs department? 

Thanks again for everyone's input. I hope this is informational for others too. 

It had nothing to do with the "proper removal" of the vehicle or the reopening of the roadway. The Fire Chief positioned himself between the vehicle involved in the MVA and the vehicle that was going to upright said vehicle. The Fire Chief basically dared the Deputy to lock his ass up and he simply obliged.


Picture yourself as a bystander, you see a pickup (more than likely the vehicle used to upright) trying to upright an overturned vehicle. Fire and LEO are both on scene so you assume that everything is under control. Then all of a sudden you see an individual in a tee shirt standing between the two vehicles trying to prevent one from uprighting the other. Then you see a Deputy try and move said individual from interfering with the operation and that individual resists..... I'd have locked the Fire Chief's ass up too.

The code of Virginia states that the Fire Chief or his designe (higest ranking fire officer) is in charge of all emergency scenes (Accidents, fires, MCI, terrorist attack, etc.) So here in VA the FD is in charge.

That's correct for Virginia, at least for scenes where fire or the release of hazardous materials is either present or immanent.  Fire personnel are authorized to conduct traffic control operations as well, but only until the arrival of police. In essence, Virginia establishes the fire chief as the incident commander with the ranking police officer as traffic sector command.

Of course in my county, neither the fire chiefs nor the Sherrif are aware of this state law, and in practice, the Sheriff's Office does what it pleases.

It was an accident scene WITH INJURY. That, in my opinion, means that SO is NO LONGER in charge. If it was no injury, then by all means go right ahead and take control of the scene, that is less on us


If you read on, the injured parties were removed and the issue was about removing the vehicle. So for all intensive purposes, the fire aspect was over and the SO could be in charge of making the call to have the vehicle removed. The issue at hand was the fire chief getting in the way because the SO allowed for a private party to remove the vehicle as opposed to say a wrecker company.


The article further states that the fire chief was preventing this because of the HAZMAT potential, however, I don't see anywhere where a team was activated or unit dispatched for that specific reason. Either way, the vehicle is still going to have to be removed and that really is not the call of the FD for most cases. The scene was no longer a patient scene once the victims are removed. Fire could standby with lines etc while the vehicle is being removed, but vehicle removal typically is not the call of the FD. I would say the fire chief was in the wrong here once the people were out of the vehicle.

I see mentioned several times about dispatching a Hazmat team and charging the lines as a precaution. My question to you all; does the procedures change depending on the type of fire department? Meaning I'm sure a bigger city or metro fire department would have a Hazmat relatively close and would have the proper equipment on the scene with abundant personnel. Where as a small rural fire department may have a ten, possibly twenty, minute wait for a Hazmat team to be sent. So in this case should the small let the LEO do what they would like and handle the situation if something happens, and then would a large city metro Chief still demand the control since he may have more clout. I ask because I was visiting my family im a very rural area that the truck and equipment at the fire house is older than I, and everyone is volunteer only. I know they would not have the luxury of waiting for Haz to arrive or having extra personnel to stand-by "IF" something did happen. So what would be the best plan of attack for there department should a similar situation arise?   

I know this is a little of subject, because the main question is was the fire chief in the article in the right to demand control of the scene or not. However, I would like to know the small town perspective versus the large or metro city procedures. Thanks again to everyone for all the information you have added.   

My question to you all; does the procedures change depending on the type of fire department?


I would say it depends upon the call. For the majority of MVA, even with fluids leaking, rarely is a HAZMAT unit dispatched, even by those depts that have a HAZMAT unit. Most auto fluid leaks can be easily mitigated with some sand, cat litter, etc. I would say the majority of responses you are seeing with the calls for a HAZMAT unit are more of a knee jerk reaction to the article/topic, and depends if one responding even read the article before posting. For the majority of MVAs having a charged line while the vehicle is removed is adequate and in some cases, the towing company may also provide some cleanup of fluids as well.


So in this case should the small let the LEO do what they would like and handle the situation if something happens, and then would a large city metro Chief still demand the control since he may have more clout


For the most part the vehicle removal aspect and accident becomes the LEO arena, once the immediate hazards and life safety has been taken care of. That is the aspect that I think people are missing here, in this incident the life safety aspect was already taken care of, thus the scene control would become the responsibilty of the LEO.


The reason this incident is being discussed is because of the fire chief getting arrested and the appearence of the LEO trying to assert authority over scene control. The reality is the life safety aspect has been taken care of and as far as HAZMAT issues go, it is difficult to ascertain what the scene really was like. The reason the fire chief was arrested was because he was interfering with the turning over of the vehicle and removal of the vehicle......of which it is not his issue to contend with. The other issue is that the LEO on scene was going to allow some Joe Blow on scene with a winch to turn the vehicle over because the party involved in the MVA said they didn't have wrecker insurance.


The fire chief stated that he was concerned because of the debris and because of the "smell" of gasoline. Well the reality is that the vehicle can not just be left there and that it is going to be removed regardless if a bystander winched it out or a towing company came to do it. The FDs job in that case should be to stand by until the vehicle is removed. The fire chief was in the wrong for getting in the way here.

After reading the article, this isn't about who was in charge. It is about a Chief making a bone head move.
The officer wants it flipped fine, have your engine co. pull a trash line just in case somthing goes woosh. Car gets flipped, hooked up, throw down some dry sweep/oil
dry. Pack up go home.
What was his plan if he had kept them from flipping it? Let it sit in the road on it's top till it rusted away.

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