Cleveland Fire Chief Daryl McGinnis has ordered an internal review of operations at the city's Firehouse-21, the Fireboat House in the Flats.
This, after a Carl Monday investigation found some firefighters sitting idle, while waiting to be re-assigned elsewhere in the city.
The Flats firehouse is essentially closed. No fire truck. And a fireboat without a full-time crew to operate it.
Six firefighters qualified to run the boat are still assigned to the Firehouse. One or two arrive each day, then wait for up to three hours to be reassigned to another fire station short on staff.
During nine days of surveillance, Monday and his team did see firefighters, while waiting for their assignments, occasionally fire up the fireboat. And even do some yard work around the firehouse. And on one day, a full crew did take the boat on the water for a river inspection.
They also witnessed some questionable work habits, raising questions about why the firefighters are assigned to a non-functioning firehouse in the first place.
At 8:30am, Firefighter Andrew Patsouras reported for duty at Firehouse-21. An hour and a half into his shift, still no assignment.
Chief McGinnis says all firefighters are supposed to remain at the station until they get the call. But 19 Action News hidden cameras followed Pastsouras leaving in his personal car to Firehouse-20 on Pearl Road where he visited with his buddies.
At 10:33, nearly two and a half hours after clocking in, he finally gets his assignment. But what's the hurry?. He spends another ten minutes showing off the engine of his car to fellow firefighters.
By the time he reaches his assigned destination, Station-30 near E.102nd & St. Clair, its already 11am. As he pulls up, Monday watches a pumper he was supposed to be on--leaving without him....head to an emergency call.
Hours into his shift, Pastouras hasn't even sniffed a fire, let alone fight one.
Coming off a five month suspension for assaulting a man in the Warehouse District, You'd think Patsouras would be ready for action. But one day, Monday caught him working on his car for about an hour---while waiting at the Fireboat house for his assignment.
Even on his off day, he returned to the station to wash a truck he uses for his private contractor business.
Bad behavior aside, Chief McGinnis says the Flats revival is in good hands: "We have the proper coverage of fire companies to be able to do any emergency in the flats area," says the Chief.
Besides, in an emergency, McGinnis says his trained fireboat operators can be summoned back to the flats. But the Fire Union's Michael Norman says the city is playing with fire: "By the time they get there, the damage will be done," he predicts.
For now, the Flats Firehouse will remain closed. A firehouse without a truck. A fireboat without a crew.
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