5 volunteers suspended for going to N.Y.

Dundalk firefighters cited for insubordination

September 29, 2001|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Five volunteer firefighters from Dundalk have been suspended for a month after traveling to New York to volunteer in the World Trade Center cleanup.

Acting Fire Chief David Martini of the Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire Department said the firefighters were cited for insubordination.

Shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Baltimore County fire officials - who have authority over both paid and volunteer squads - issued a memorandum telling firefighters throughout the county to remain until summoned by the Fire Department of New York, Martini said.

When the five members said they wanted to go on their own time, they were warned not to, Martini said.

"They were instructed not to go," Martini said. "It is very important to follow orders."

The suspended firefighters are Lt. Mike Kratochvil, Judi Ulsch, Will Willinger, Chuck Bruzdzinski and his sister, Kim Bruzdzinski.

One Dundalk community activist was outraged by the suspensions.

Thomas Toporovich, a Dundalk resident for 46 years who some consider the unofficial "mayor" of the community, said he can't understand why the volunteers could not go on their own time.

"I'm amazed and shocked," Toporovich said last night. "I don't understand what the rationale would be to impose that restrictions on volunteers. They're doing this for us."

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