UPDATE: Fire Chief finds unauthorized use of fire hydrants 'substantially accurate'
A North Georgia firefighter is accused of using water from a fire hydrant to run his pressure washing business. The water company confirms they have seen video of the firefighter's employees helping themselves to the city's water.
UPDATE: The Whitfield County Fire Department said through an investigation they determined that the allegation of unauthorized use of a fire hydrant by off duty personnel were substantially accurate. The fire department said they will not tolerate this conduct from a Fire Department employee.
"Trust and good judgment are crucial aspects of a firefighter's role and both have been severely compromised," said Fire Chief Edward O'Brien.
The department said they have proposed termination of employment in accordance with the Whitfield County Merit Policy.
The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners and County Administrator fully support the Fire Chief's investigation, findings, and conclusion in this matter. ?
PREVIOUS STORY: A North Georgia firefighter is accused of using water from a fire hydrant to run his pressure washing business.
The water company confirms they have seen video of the firefighter's employees helping themselves to the city's water. The video was turned over by a concerned citizen and given to Dalton Utilities. Whitfield County officials say they are conducting an internal investigation into the off-duty conduct of their employee. The firefighter has been placed on administrative leave as outlined in county policy.
The video shows a private company tapping into a hydrant and filling up two 200-gallon water tanks used for pressure washing and other environmental services.
"Hydrants are placed for firefighting purposes so the only people authorized to operate a hydrant would be a utility employee or a fireman," said Lori McDaniel, Dalton Utility Spokesperson.
McDaniel says the owner of that private company seen on video is also a county firefighter, still any hook-up by a personal businesses is never allowed.
"Tampering with fire hydrants is a serious thing, there is the issue of you could damage the fire hydrant and you can diminish its fire fighting capabilities also it's theft of water," said McDaniel.
The utility isn't pressing any charges, they say when confronted, the company paid for the 2-300 gallons of water that was taken, in addition to a $150 fee.
"The county sort of took it into their hands when they recognized it was a county issue," said McDaniel.
Utility officials want the public to know it's never okay to touch or tamper with a fire hydrant. An unauthorized turn on can create hazards and if there is not a back-flow prevention device associated with the hydrant, then tapping in could contaminate the water supply.
"People should not be tampering with hydrants unless they are a qualified utility employee or a firefighter flushing a hydrant or fighting a fire," said McDaniel.
County officials say it is standard county policy to fully investigate all circumstances surrounding an event and the department anticipates the conclusion of their investigation by the end of this week.