Spokane Captain Challenges Suspension For Pushing Belligerent Patient

A Spokane fire captain who pushed a belligerent patient after the patient spit at him, is challenging a three-shift disciplinary suspension.

Captain Greg Borg, a 37-year veteran and former president of IAFF Local 29, got into the altercation on a medical run on June 25, 2016. The patient, who was sleeping on a sidewalk surrounded by beer cans, became argumentative when awoken by firefighters. He reportedly threatened to assault Captain Borg and spit in his direction. After being warned to stop, the patient spit at Captain Borg prompting the push which sent the patient to the ground. He was not injured and declined treatment.

Following the incident, police charged Captain Borg with misdemeanor assault. In September, a Spokane Municipal Court judge agreed to dismiss the charges provided Captain Borg participated in an anger management program, paid a $75 monitoring fee, and agreed to not contact the victim.

Fire Chief Bobby Williams issued Captain Borg a 3-shift suspension, writing “I cannot stress enough the severity of this one action, and the negative impact that is a result of assaulting a patient while administering care. These actions are unacceptable behavior for any firefighter, and particularly for a supervisor.”

Captain Borg and IAFF Local 29 are grieving the discipline. Among the issues are the fact that Captain Borg was close to the end of a 48 hour shift when the altercation occurred, and the fact he has an unblemished record. Before going to arbitration, the Mayor will have the opportunity to hear the grievance.

More on the story.

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.
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