Video: Atlanta fire captain suspended for solo rescue announces resignation
Atlanta Fire Capt. Danny Dwyer spoke publicly for the first time about his suspension, revealing that he has accepted a position with another department
By Laura French
ATLANTA — An Atlanta fire captain who was suspended in February for going into a burning building without his crew to rescue a trapped resident spoke publicly about the incident for the first time on Monday, revealing that he has resigned from the department as of May 28.
Atlanta Fire Capt. Danny Dwyer joined the crew of the “Gettin Salty Experience” podcast to discuss the incident in which he rescued 95-year-old Sally Skrine from the burning home in June. Skrine later died from her injuries. (Watch the full interview below.)
Dwyer’s suspension notice stated that his going in without fellow crewmembers was “in immediate conflict with no freelancing, accountability and maintaining crew integrity.”
Atlanta Fire Chief Randall Slaughter later defended the suspension in a statement to the city’s public safety committee, saying, “While it might seem courageous and commendable to go outside of the incident command system and take it upon yourself to do an act of bravery, you actually could not only jeopardize your life in the process but jeopardize other firefighters who have to go in after you once you get trapped.”
Dwyer’s suspension sparked outrage across the country from both civilians and firefighters who considered his actions heroic. The debate generated hundreds of comments on the FireRescue1 Facebook page.
Dwyer said during the live discussion that a battalion chief had authorized a search of the house and that he went in after two firefighters from another company who had already gone in with a hoseline, while his two other crewmembers were still putting on their gear.
The captain said he at first received praise for his actions, but that one of his superiors brought up the charges against him later on. Dwyer went on to say that he disagreed with his suspension and with the policies that led to it.
“For the better part of 10 years, we have gotten into this culture of ‘us before them.’ And I have a huge problem with that,” Dwyer said. “That’s not how I was raised on this job.”
When the Gettin Salty hosts, retired FDNY Firefighters Louis Refrano and Kevin Kubler, questioned what would have happened if Dwyer had not gone in and Skrine had been left in the building, Dwyer responded, “At the end of the day, I’ve got to get up and look at myself in the mirror every morning ... What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. And I will go to my grave disagreeing with the decision that was made.”
Dwyer says support for him and his family in the aftermath of the incident has been overwhelming, and that he received donations on GoFundMe that far surpassed the wages he lost during the 48-hour suspension. He said he will be donating the funds to the church Skrine attended.
“The victim that passed away — to say that she was a pillar in her community, I think would be an understatement,” he said.
He also revealed that he has resigned from the Atlanta Fire Department effective May 28, and has accepted a position at another department. He said he will be starting there at entry-level and joked that he will be “scrubbing toilets,” but said he is enthusiastic about the opportunity to move on.
While he didn’t identify the department by name, Dwyer said it is located north of Atlanta and has a lower call volume.