Dismissal of charges likely for fire chief

November 15, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

County fire officials are working on an agreement to dismiss criminal charges against the chief of the Savage Volunteer Fire Company over a confrontation with a professional paramedic in September.

A panel formed to investigate the incident involving Fire Chief Ernest W. Foster was disbanded two weeks ago, said Donald Howell, spokesman for the county Department of Fire and Rescue Services.

"Both individuals have mutually agreed to resolve their differences between the two of them," Mr. Howell said. "There was no need to continue with the commission."

The agreement is expected to state that charges of assault and disturbing the peace filed against the chief by paramedic Andrew T. Lester will be dropped, Mr. Howell said. He did not know when the agreement will be finished.

Chief Foster said he hopes that tense relations between the volunteer and professional firefighters will improve once the agreement is final.

"I'm sure I would have been found not guilty because I hadn't done anything," he said.

Mr. Lester and union officials, who are involved in resolving the dispute, would not comment.

The panel was formed to determine what, if any, disciplinary action would be taken against Mr. Foster after a confrontation with Mr. Lester at the Savage firehouse on Sept. 22.

L A Howard District Court trial had been scheduled for Feb. 2.

Mr. Lester accused the chief of charging toward him with fists raised, court papers say. Mr. Foster was restrained when Alan Grimes, president of the fire company, pulled him away in a "bear hug."

Mr. Foster denied the accusations, saying he had done nothing wrong.

Mr. Lester said in a complaint he filed in Howard District Court that Mr. Foster confronted him over the "media circus" surrounding the second arrest of a former volunteer paramedic and firefighter.

Mr. Lester is spokesman for the county Professional Firefighters Association, an organization that represents Howard's career firemen and paramedics.

After the Sept. 4 arrest of the volunteer, James Scott Botschen, who was charged with rape, Mr. Lester issued a statement saying it was inexcusable that the company permitted him to remain with the organization after Botschen had been convicted of assault in January.

Douglas Levy, spokesman for the Savage fire company, said the volunteers hope to set aside "internal squabbles" with career firefighters.

"We want to get past this so we can get on with the business of saving lives and protecting property," Mr. Levy said.

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