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Firefighter who shot own hand while on duty to retire

The chief declined to say if any other disciplinary action was meted out after the accidental shooting and subsequent internal investigation

By Emily Masters
Times Union

ALBANY, N.Y. — The on-duty city firefighter who accidentally shot himself in the hand Feb. 10 will retire in early June, Fire Chief Warren Abriel said.

The firefighter, who has not been identified, was not put on disciplinary leave or docked pay, Abriel said.

The chief declined to say if any other disciplinary action — including an oral or written reprimand, or a loss of vacation days — was meted out after the accidental shooting and subsequent internal investigation.

“I think it was all accidental and he just didn’t realize it was in the bag,” Abriel said.

City firefighters, who are full-time employees, are not allowed to carry a gun while on duty. The chief said he’s recently reminded his staff about this policy.

The firefighter, a 27-year-veteran of the department, will retire the first week in June.

“That was his decision,” the chief said.

The firefighter was put on light duty in headquarters for “a couple weeks” while he recovered and has since returned to his regular duties at the Arbor Hill firehouse, Abriel said.

On Feb. 21, city police said the firefighter would not be criminally charged.

“Our investigation determined that it was an accidental discharge and no crime had been committed,” Albany police spokesman Officer Steve Smith said.

Police officers went to the Arbor Hill firehouse for a report of shots fired at about 12:20 p.m. Feb. 10, Smith said. He declined to identify who called the police.

The firefighter was inside his assigned bunk room when he found a loaded semi-automatic Glock handgun in his overnight bag, the police incident report states. He decided to unload the gun and lock it in his car for the duration of his shift, the report states.

But, as the firefighter tried to empty the gun, his left hand covered the muzzle. When he accidentally fired a shot, the bullet went into his left palm and out his wrist, police records state.

The firefighter was taken to Albany Medical Center Hospital by fellow city firefighters and Mohawk Ambulance Services with non-life-threatening injuries, the incident report states. Mohawk Ambulance Services declined to comment.

A detective recovered the gun at the scene for “safe keeping,” Smith said. The firefighter legally owns the handgun with a valid pistol permit, Smith said.

The accidental shooting drew a heavy police and fire presence, including department brass, to the North Manning Boulevard firehouse but neither agency spoke publicly about the incident until reporters asked what had happened.

Four detectives, a sergeant and Commander Darrell Gipson responded, along with fire department Chief Abriel, Deputy Chief Joseph Gregory and Battalion Chief Gregory Sokaris, police records state.

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