Firefighter fired for responding to scene of fatal crash


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Firefighter fired for responding to scene of fatal crash

Member who broke department protocol by responding directly to the scene says he wasn't responding as a firefighter but as a civilian

By EMS1 Staff

COLUMBIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A paid-on-call firefighter who was fired for responding directly to the scene of a vehicle crash with multiple fatalities said he did so as a Samaritan, not a firefighter.

Columbia Township (Mich.) Fire Department protocol requires that firefighters respond to their station; the chief, assistant chief and captain are allowed to respond directly to a scene, according to Wood TV. For that, firefighter Michael Freislinger was fired.

Freislinger told Wood TV that he had previously responded directly to scenes and had been on probation for violating other department rules, which he disputes.

The Nov. 13 crash killed one woman and two children.

"The night of that call, I was not acting as a firefighter," Freislinger told Wood TV. "I was just a citizen that was helping out, giving them a hand. I was in route before we even got called. I was being a good Samaritan.

Freislinger said he is considering legal actions.

The township supervisors said the matter is under investigation and the fire chief declined to comment citing personnel confidentiality, Wood TV reported.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Elizabeth Miller Elizabeth Miller Thursday, November 22, 2012 9:21:51 AM If he was on call, and he responded as a citizen, then he got fired for not showing up to work, not for responding direct.
Kelli Sawyers Kelli Sawyers Thursday, November 22, 2012 12:15:13 PM maybe after the whole story comes out, we all can better understand. was the crash near his home? did he pass the crash while enroute to station? etc. etc. in Pennsylvania, state licensed emergency responders are under the "duty to act" law. if I pass, witness or are involved in a crash or any other emergency situation, I am NOT responding to station first before helping anyone in need.
Cameron Harrison Cameron Harrison Thursday, November 22, 2012 12:40:39 PM Paid on Call menas that you are Paid once you show to the station for the call! This would not be his primary job and he is not paid to be on call, so he would not be failing to show up for work.
Cameron Harrison Cameron Harrison Thursday, November 22, 2012 12:42:16 PM Paid on Call menas that you are Paid once you show to the station for the call! This would not be his primary job and he is not paid to be on call, so he would not be failing to show up for work.
Kevin Crowe Kevin Crowe Thursday, November 22, 2012 12:50:27 PM How did he know about the call? If he was driving by and happened upon it then he is a good samaritan. If he heard about it from a radio owned by the department then he was acting as an employee.
Derek Noll Derek Noll Thursday, November 22, 2012 2:44:32 PM There is no duty to act law in Pennsylvania unless you are on duty. As a volunteer, you have no legal obligation to stop and render aid.
Evan Scott Evan Scott Friday, November 23, 2012 8:54:12 AM He ended up directing traffic. Good thing he had his CPR right? Once you are on a scene and your dept is called, you are acting on the behalf of that organization. There have been plenty of times I come across an emergency, as soon as my pager goes off I am now on FD time and am under my officers command. I understand that sometimes it makes more scene to respond right to the scene and I have been bitched at for this, but those times were in situations where I was able to provide some sort of medical attention to a patient who may be worse off waiting 10 min for a rig to arrive. He obviously seems to have an issue with this in the past. From what I have seen so far he is not even an EMT or Medic, so his first aid skills are limited and being a fetal crash the surviving patients are going to most likely need advanced life support and actual equipment. I think good intention are not always enough to get you out of trouble.
Greg Montgomery Greg Montgomery Friday, November 23, 2012 1:07:46 PM Sounds like they didn't like him.
Dan Dingess Dan Dingess Friday, November 23, 2012 1:27:47 PM seems to me like this firefighter has an excuse for everything. if protocol dictates he report to the station then so be it. HE ISn't THE BOSS!
Micky Finn Micky Finn Friday, November 23, 2012 2:19:43 PM Another Willie Wannabee! This is why the Fire Service gets so little support from Goverment and media! Guys likes this who think they are doing something! Follow Policy, and stop freelancing! This is all about look at me, I was there, and has "Brian Syndrome" from Backdraft!
Zoey Bear Tur Zoey Bear Tur Friday, November 23, 2012 2:41:30 PM The guy has trouble with following dept rules and should be terminated. If your FFs all responded to the scene, instead of heading directly to the station, there's nobody to man the rigs.
Christopher O'Brien Christopher O'Brien Friday, November 23, 2012 3:55:28 PM Yeah, he's parsing his words and reasons on camera. Which is probably why he went to the media in the first place. I don't know the area and probably wouldn't agree with the policy if I did. They should change it. But he knew the rules and should have either responded to the station or allowed others to respond according to whom was on staff (if he was 'paid on call' then he had to respond - and they should change the rule. If he was a volunteer, then he should have sucked it up and let others handle if he didn't want to follow the rules)
Christopher O'Brien Christopher O'Brien Friday, November 23, 2012 3:56:21 PM In many states though, motorists do have a duty to stop and render aid... which is different than as a volunteer. Yet, 6 miles is quite a distance.
Christopher O'Brien Christopher O'Brien Friday, November 23, 2012 3:56:48 PM Last I checked, most fire services get quite a bit of support at all levels.
'David L. Robison 'David L. Robison Friday, November 23, 2012 6:20:43 PM Freislinger was on probation for a series of similar incidents. He was warned on numerous occasions to report to the station prior to responding to scenes. This was his final chance. He had stated earlier that he wanted to help because "there were children reported to be hurt and 'bodies all over the place'" from the reports he intercepted on his scanner. He had NO gear of any kind - PPE, safety vest or bunker gear. What could he have possibly done? Any injury he would have incurred would have put his Department and Township in a bad financial position. If you Google his name and the Columbia Township VFD you can read the complete story. He says he doesn't want his old job back - just his disciplinary record cleared. He is even threatening legal action. He wants to move on to the the next organization, flaunt the established rules and protocols and run calls as he wants to run them. He's the Eager Eddie that most departments have - but he doesn't seem to learn. If he doesn't hurt himself or a patient, he'll hurt a co-worker. He wants bragging rights at the station - "Hey, I was on THAT call!" He is a tragedy waiting to happen. When this all blows over, don't worry - you'll hear from Freislinger again. He will be the one who died running into a burning structure without his SCBA, fell of a ladder rescuing a cat, or violating some patients privacy and earning a major HIPPA fine because he posted a patient's picture and a graphic injury description on Facebook! (In my opinion) he is an immature, attention seeking, narcissist who discredits his profession and endangers the public, his co-workers and himself. His loss will not be missed - except to himself.
Bryan Goodridge Bryan Goodridge Friday, November 23, 2012 7:28:12 PM They want dedicated members then they don't want dedicated members. Make up your minds. I know firefighters and paramedics who drive right by car wrecks without a heart tug to stop. They are the ones who need to be fired.
Charlie Mondaro Charlie Mondaro Saturday, November 24, 2012 5:29:57 AM The big question is HOW did he find out about the call? If he was "acting" as a citizen as he said there would be almost NO way he could know of the incident if not for his radio or scanner. When a scanner comes into play he has NO duty to respond to any call. It is ALL nonsense in the end but you sure can't have everybody playing by their own rules.
Bob Coulombe Bob Coulombe Saturday, November 24, 2012 9:44:10 AM Call jumping is wrong. His " reasoning" indicates he knew he was wrong. Also seems he and rules seem to butt up against each other. Not a guy I want in my Unit. Bob Coulombe
Steve Robbins Steve Robbins Saturday, November 24, 2012 11:24:47 AM It is fairly evident that this guy has an issue following rules. He is on probation by his own admission in the story and he responded as a Samaritan. Sound to me like he isn't a team player!
Paul Cutino Paul Cutino Saturday, November 24, 2012 11:33:05 PM It's probably good that he went to the media, so all the departments in the nation will know that he is an idiot. He should have followed protocal.
Gib Lee Gib Lee Sunday, November 25, 2012 12:54:07 AM I agree Paul. You are correct
Chris Willoughby Chris Willoughby Sunday, November 25, 2012 4:58:49 PM If you break department protocol, then you should be punished. Also, the 'responding as a citizen, not a firefighter' thing does not work. You still have the advanced training, especially if it is in your district, the 'citizen/samaritan' thing does not work. From the sounds of it, if he has broken protocol and been repremanded before, then I think he would need to go. He is a safety issue and liability to not only himself, the other firefighters, but the district and people he serves. Sorry, that is how I see it.
Yedidya Ben-Avie Yedidya Ben-Avie Sunday, November 25, 2012 7:20:25 PM I know in the town I volunteer for we are also not allowed to respond to the scene. The reason we have been told is that we don't have the equipment needed to provide good care or meet state minimums. I.e. we would get to a scene and not have collars to appropriately secure c-spine which would lead to negligence when we failed do to so.
Bernie Smicherko Bernie Smicherko Monday, November 26, 2012 3:35:47 PM Derek, if you are a State Licensed Emergency Responder in PA you have a duty to act. i.e. EMT, Paramedic, First Responder, and PRN.
Steve Jacobi Steve Jacobi Monday, November 26, 2012 9:09:42 PM Protocols are put in place for a reason which includes safety. You get too many people responding to one scene you create a hazard especially when one or more are adrenaline junkies with a scanner. This guy was already on probation for not following the protocols. No more excuses fool.
Chris Willoughby Chris Willoughby Tuesday, November 27, 2012 9:18:22 AM The problem is, he stated in the article that he was en route to the accident before it was toned out, which means he was responding. We listen to law enforcement channels also due to them getting information regarding a call that has yet to be toned out. There are many times when we are "en route" because of this information prior to being dispatched. The other side of this is, all states have a type of "Duty to Act" law, some require you to stop and some say that it is your choice, but if you stop, you are commited unti someone from the district you are in or higher training relieves you. It was in his district, and he stopped and has higher trainnig that a public samaritan, therfore, he was committed either way to act. Look at the good samaritan laws, they refer to the public, not trained civil responders who have training above and beyond the general public.