Fire Station Practical Joke Leads to Criminal Charges

Under the heading of you can’t make this stuff up, comes a really dumb – but in many ways even more tragic – incident from Connecticut involving several junior firefighters, and a few non-so junior firefighters.

While in the Quaker Hill fire station in Waterford on September 27, 2009, a 14 year old junior firefighter pulled a chair out from underneath the girlfriend of a firefighter. Not surprisingly, the woman and her boyfriend took offense.  Several hours later, the junior firefighter was summoned by a captain, and several parties then proceeded to duct-tape and strap the 14 year old to a backboard.

Once fastened to the backboard, the victim was carried outside and placed on exhibit in front of the fire station. Three juveniles then took turns shooting the victim with two air soft guns from about five feet away. (Note: various news sources are reporting that the weapon was an air gun, pellet gun, or BB gun, but our sources indicate that two air soft guns firing soft BB-like projectiles were used). When the shooting ended, the victim was very upset, reported the incident to his parents, the police were notified, and a lengthy investigation ensued.

When the investigation concluded last week, seven persons were facing criminal charges. Four adults were charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree unlawful restraint and risk of injury to a minor and were released on $500 bond. A 17-year-old was charged with second-degree assault, second-degree reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a minor. The teen was released on $30,000 bond. Two juveniles were referred to juvenile court for their role in the assault.  All are facing court dates just after the holidays.

Shortly after the incident, the fire chief and several senior members of the department were suspended. All in all a tragic ending for the entire department and the members involved that will have lasting consequences. Reputations damaged, criminal records impacting future job prospects. All because of a practical joke….. a case of children supervising children, with 21-22 year olds supervising 14 and 17 year olds.


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About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
  • Well, that is one 14 y/o that will never survive in the fire service because of his thin skin. If you don’t like practical jokes, don’t start something at the firehouse.

  • Curt Varone

    You know, that is certainly one way to look at it. The problem is when the “outside” looks in at the fire service, this kind of stuff isn’t as funny as it is to those “inside” the fire service. It’s just so unfortuante that it went the way it did.


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