Four DeKalb County Fire Rescue employees were demoted last week after a month-long investigation concerning alleged drinking on duty during the January snowstorm.
Assistant Chief Joseph Tinsley was demoted to captain; Capt. Marcus Reed was demoted two ranks to firefighter level 2; and fire apparatus operator William Corbett and firefighter Joshua Crawford also were demoted, according to Fire Chief Eddie O’Brien.
The incident happened on Jan. 11. Several firefighters met at Savage Pizza in Avondale Estates for dinner and consumed alcohol, then most of them went to Twain’s Billiards & Tap in Decatur where more food and alcohol were consumed, according to the report.
Reed was found guilty of conduct unbecoming and possession of alcohol at a place of work; Corbett and Crawford also were found guilty of possessing alcohol at a place of work.
Tinsley was exonerated of the charge of conduct unbecoming and a charge of neglect of duty was deemed unfounded, according to the report. Tinsley admitted to having one beer at Twain’s and was not intoxicated, which is not a violation of company policy, according to the report. On the neglect of duty charge, it was determined that he immediately notified a supervisor of his involvement in the incident.
The investigation showed that Corbett and Crawford drank alcohol at their fire station and were seen there with open bottles of beer. Reed admitted to having too much to drink at Savage Pizza and Twain’s. The bill at Savage Pizza was $102.81 and the bill at Twain’s was $12.99, according to the report.
“Due to the amount of alcohol I had consumed while at Savage Pizza and at Twain’s, I don’t remember much after leaving Twain’s,” Reed said in the report. “I am ashamed and embarrassed by my actions of that night. I was way out of line and way out of control.”
Reed, Corbett, Crawford and Anthony Smith all had their blood-alcohol level tested the following morning because they were on duty then.
The initial test showed that Reed had a blood-alcohol level of .054 and Corbett registered .02. DeKalb County Public Safety has a “No Tolerance” policy for any test result at .02 and higher. Because of the initial test results, both Corbett and Reed were placed on administrative leave without pay pending the completion of the investigation.
It was later determined that Corbett was not unfit for duty, but he and Crawford were found guilty of having beer at the firehouse. On the way back from Twain’s to the firehouse, Corbett bought a 12-pack of beer and brought it into the firehouse.
Both Corbett and Crawford were found drinking in the fire station. They went into the captain’s office, opened a window and poured out the beers, but kept the bottles because they didn’t want the bottles to be found in the trash cans, according to the report.
Smith was exonerated of misconduct after he admitted to having beer but tests revealed he was never intoxicated, which is not a policy violation, according to the report.
A total of 10 firefighters were investigated for the incident. Capt. Allen Garcia and Capt. Stevy Duke, who were not demoted, both were found guilty of misconduct. They “did not notify their chain-of-command and act in a prompt manner to remedy the policy violations that occurred” in their presence.
Deputy Chief William Smith, who has since resigned from the department, was exonerated on one charge while three others were deemed unfounded in the investigation.