Fla. firefighter cleared of wrongdoing in off-duty fire response
"Based on what we know after reviewing official reports ... it would appear more likely that we should issue Capt. Jay Schwartz a commendation"
By Kimberly Moore
LAKELAND, Fla. — Polk County Deputy Manager Joe Halman on Friday cleared Fire Rescue Capt. Jay Schwartz of any wrongdoing after the captain helped to fight a fire while he was off duty and without proper equipment, saying Schwartz' actions were, in fact, "heroic, commendable and consistent with expectations of Polk County Fire Rescue employees."
Halman ended the investigation and determined "no disciplinary action is warranted at this time." Schwartz is also union president of the Polk County IAFF Local 3531.
"Based on what we know after reviewing official reports of the April 4, 2018, fire at 704 W. Daughtery Road in Lakeland," Halman said, "it would appear more likely that we should issue Capt. Jay Schwartz a commendation, rather than discipline."
Schwartz was named in a complaint from an on-duty PCFR battalion chief and captain. The complaint, received by the county April 10, was that Schwartz was working while off duty and without his protective clothing. The investigation into the complaint revealed that, in fact, another off-duty PCFR captain, Clay Hamric, also was in the area of the fire that day, saw smoke, and instinctively drove to the scene to offer aid.
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