WFD battalion chief resigns before internal investigation comple - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

WFD battalion chief resigns before internal investigation complete

WFD Battalion Chief Jimmy Casteen (Source: NHC Jail) WFD Battalion Chief Jimmy Casteen (Source: NHC Jail)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – A battalion chief with the Wilmington Fire Department resigned Friday after an incident during the train derailment at the Love Grove Community.

According to officials, Jimmy Casteen was on duty at the train derailment at the Love Grove Community.

According to City spokesperson Malissa Talbert, WFD Deputy Chief Steve Mason was advised Friday morning when he arrived to the train derailment that Casteen was under "a reasonable suspicion of alcohol."

Mason took Casteen to the Medac facility on Oleander Drive for a breathalyzer test.

At that point, the City of Wilmington began an internal investigation, but Casteen resigned Friday before the investigation was complete, according Talbert. No charges have been filed.

"It is unfortunate that the events surrounding Battalion Chief Casteen, while handled swiftly and in strict accordance with city policy, has taken the focus off of what was a very professionally managed emergency," said Wilmington Fire Chief Buddy Martinette. "That said, the confidence the public places in our personnel to respond and mitigate these types of incidents can never be compromised. While this was a regrettable situation, I am very proud of how our personnel handled both aspects of this incident."

Here is a timeline of Friday's incident from the City of Wilmington based on current information:

  • First call about the train derailment – 5:05 a.m.

  • WFD first on scene – 5:10 a.m.

  • At that point, established procedure called for Captain Jason Brown to serve as incident commander as the highest ranking official from the first responding unit.

  • At approximately 5:30 a.m., Battalion Chief Danny Grafius arrived at the scene and took over as incident commander. (Battalion chiefs are higher ranking than captains)

  • BC Grafius established a unified command at approximately 6 a.m.

  • The unified command included personnel from the Wilmington police and fire departments,NHC EMS, and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. WFD served as the lead agency, which is normal for incidents such as this that involve potentially hazardous materials. Under a unified command, major decisions are made collectively by participating agencies.

  • BC Casteen reported for his shift at 7 a.m. at Fire Headquarters.

  • Casteen then rode with other fire personnel to the scene at approximately 7:15 a.m., at which time he relieved BC Grafius.

  • At approximately 9:30 a.m., WFD Deputy Chief Steve Mason arrived on scene to check on things and staff advised him that there was what city policy calls "a reasonable suspicion of alcohol."

  • Mason immediately took Casteen to Medac for testing, which occurred at approximately 10 a.m.

  • When Casteen left, BC Tim Smith assumed his role in the unified command. It is established procedure for two battalion chiefs to be on scene for major incidents such as this. BC Smith also came on duty at 7 a.m.

  • The unified command remained in place until the scene was fully cleared at 8:02 p.m. that evening.

Casteen was charged with a DWI in December 2012. At that time he was placed on unpaid leave, pending the outcome of the case. He appeared in court in April where his case was continued to July 29, 2013.

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