Fire volunteers suspended in dispute over orders Feud heightened with career staff GLEN BURNIE

May 18, 1993|By Donna Weaver | Donna Weaver,Contributing Writer

Two Glen Burnie volunteer firefighters have been suspended in a dispute over orders from a career lieutenant, unleashing another round of accusations in the feud among paid and volunteer officials.

Firefighters Frank Orange and Robert Gallante were suspended Sunday for refusing to take their engine out of service after they refused to move to the Marley fire station to cover for firefighters responding to a traffic accident, county Fire Department spokesman Capt. J. Gary Sheckells said.

The two will be scheduled for a hearing within 30 days before a disciplinary board, Captain Sheckells said.

"They were suspended because they disobeyed a lawful directive by a superior officer," Captain Sheckells said. "This was not a request, it was an order."

But Glen Burnie Assistant Volunteer Fire Chief Paul McGinnis claimed that the suspensions are not valid and that the two men will ride with him on calls in the volunteer fire engine.

"If I'm there, I'm going to take them out on calls," he said. "This is just an ongoing thing to try to run us out. It's a known fact that the county is trying to run the volunteers off so they can take control."

The incident began at 3:30 a.m. Saturday when a six-member volunteer crew led by Mr. Orange and Mr. Gallante refused to go to the Marley station because some of them had to go to work in a few hours, Captain Sheckells said. "That in itself would have been OK, the fact that a number of them had to go to work," Captain Sheckells said.

But the crew also disobeyed an order from the same lieutenant by refusing to take the engine out of service. The crew said, however, that if the engine stayed in Glen Burnie they would have enough firefighters to man it.

"Either they will be available and ready to respond, or they won't. This is not a game of pick and choose," Captain Sheckells said.

But Mr. McGinnis disputes the county's version of the incident.

"There's nothing in the departmental orders that says that you have to take the transfer," he said. "It's only a request."

A four-man paid crew and a six-man volunteer crew were at the station on Saturday, Mr. McGinnis said.

"But the career officer asked our people to take the transfer. And they said 'no,' " he said. "The county should tell them [the paid crew] to take the call. They didn't take the transfer either."

The crew didn't take its engine out of service because it was available for the Glen Burnie area.

"They were available for our own area," Mr. McGinnis said. "Our responsibility is to take care of our Glen Burnie area.

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