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Published: Tuesday, 2/5/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Firefighters at Station 5 come under investigation

Probe started Jan. 22; allegations unspecified

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Toledo Fire Department’s Bureau of Professional Standards is investigating unspecified allegations against members of downtown’s Station 5, the same station where two firefighters recently charged with drunken-driving crashes work.

The bureau launched an investigation Jan. 22 of shift C at Station 5 for a reported Jan. 19 incident. Department officials, including Toledo fire Chief Luis Santiago, have declined to comment about the circumstances surrounding the investigations or what prompted the inquiry.

“I am waiting for the investigation to exhaust itself, and we will handle things accordingly,” the chief said.

Department officials said they did not know when the investigation would be complete. No one had yet been placed on administrative leave because of the investigation.

There were no notations in the personnel files of shift C firefighters referencing the investigation. Beyond routine employee documentation, the highlights of those files include unprompted thanks from Toledoans for such things as an off-duty firefighter rolling a car off a trapped person, compassionate care of victims during emergencies, and other incidences of exemplary service.

Jeffrey Romstadt, president of Firefighters’ Local 92, said he would not comment on an ongoing investigation.

The department’s inquiry follows two recent alcohol-related incidences involving Station 5 firefighters. Two members of shift B at Station 5 have been charged with drunken driving and related offenses.

Paul Heiss, a 10-year veteran of the fire department, was charged with being involved in a hit-skip traffic crash on West Sylvania near Douglas Road. Mr. Heiss, who is charged with numerous traffic offenses including driving while intoxicated and failure to stop after an accident, rear-ended one vehicle Dec. 30 and then backed into another before fleeing the scene, according to a police report. He is scheduled to appear today in Toledo Municipal Court.

Weeks later, Firefighter Todd Steele, a 17-year veteran of the city’s department, was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and reckless operation of a vehicle, after a Jan. 14 incident.

According to a police report, Mr. Steele was driving eastbound on Sylvania Avenue when he lost control at Phillips Avenue and hit a flagpole, a stone monument, a fire hydrant, and a traffic-control box. The monument and hydrant flew through the air and smashed into a large stone support pillar at Boyd’s Retro Candy Store, 954 Phillips Ave.

His next court date is next month.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086.



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