While responding to a Tuesday night rollover accident in Chula Vista, Calif., a police officer and firefighter got into a dispute over where the fire engine should park. It ended with the uniformed firefighter in handcuffs.
The California Highway Patrol officer reportedly ordered the firefighter, identified as Jacob Gregoir, to move the fire engine off the center divide or he would be arrested. As he worked the scene and checked the overturned car for more victims, he reportedly told the unidentified officer that he would have to check with his captain.
That’s when the officer decided to detain the firefighter instead.
According to UT San Diego, Gregoir — a fire service veteran of more than 12 years — parked the truck behind an ambulance to provide protection to the emergency responders from oncoming traffic. This is apparently a standard safety procedure fire crews are taught.
KFMB-TV captured some of the argument and ensuing arrest on video:
In the video, the CHP officer can be seen putting Gregoir, still in uniform, in handcuffs while others with the fire crew and officers tend to the crash victims.
The firefighter was reportedly put in the back of a CHP cruiser and detained for about half an hour before being released.
“To detain one of our firefighters in the middle of an incident is ridiculous,” Chula Vista Fire Department Chief Dave Hanneman said. “It doesn’t provide the good customer service, the good public service that both of our agencies are there to do.”
Hanneman later confirmed to UT San Diego that fire crews are trained to park their rigs with the intention of blocking oncoming traffic.
“I know clearing the freeway is a priority for the CHP. Our No. 1 priority is the safety of our firefighters and patients,” he said.
The California Highway Patrol and Chula Vista Fire Department are expected to meet on Wednesday to talk about the incident.
“The driver of a white Honda Civic involved in the crash was transported to the hospital. No word on the condition of the second driver,” KFMB-TV reports.
This story has been updated with additional information.
UPDATE: The California Highway Patrol and Chula Vista Fire Department issued a joint statement on Wednesday, calling the incident “unfortunate” and vowing to improve communication:
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.
Note: We had an extended discussion about this story on Thursday’s BlazeCast:
As Gawker points out, “a police officer was fined $18,000 after he arrested a firefighter who also refused to move his firetruck during a highway rescue” back in 2008.