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O.C. Firefighter Denies Go-Slow Effort at Blaze

April 01, 2006|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

An Orange County firefighters' union official on Friday denied charges made by a Yorba Linda couple this week that firefighters deliberately took their time putting out a fire that destroyed their dream house.

Firefighters responded quickly to the blaze on Dec. 7 at the $1.1-million, five-bedroom home, according to a summary by the Orange County Fire Authority. Firefighters brought in extra personnel and began a "fast-attack" effort inside before they were forced outside.

Records show the fire was under control in 75 minutes, the report said.

But firefighters, incident commander Dan Young and the fire authority came under attack at Tuesday's meeting of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, which heard the complaints of homeowners Tricia and Jeff James.

The couple said the unionized Orange County firefighters took their time when they discovered that Jeff James was an engineer at a nonunion fire department in the Los Angeles suburb of Vernon.

Tricia James accused Young, who is a union vice president, of noticing a Vernon Fire Department sticker on their cars and asking, "Who's the scab?"

Young denied her accusations, saying everyone who knows him is aware "I do not speak that way or use those kinds of terms."

"If a firefighter is from another department which is not a union department, why would that matter to me?" he asked. "What would be an adequate reason for me to ignore my oath to risk my life to save the lives and property of all those I have sworn to protect?"

Battalion Chief Ed Fleming said the department intends to conduct both an internal investigation and a tactical review of the steps taken by fire personnel the night of the fire.

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