You didn’t misread that headline: an Atlanta firefighter has been suspended for 48 hours for trying to save a woman from her burning home.
On June 28, 2019, Captain Daniel Dwyer rushed into the home of 95-year-old Sallie Skrine, trying to save her from the blaze engulfing her home. Tragically, Skrine succumbed to her injuries.
Following the rescue attempt, Dwyer has been suspended for 48 hours.
Why Was Dwyer Suspended?
According to Atlanta-Fire Rescue’s internal complaint, Dwyer’s suspension comes as a result of him rushing into the home without his crew.
“While performing your duties, you entered the structure without your crew members which is in immediate conflict with no freelancing, accountability, and maintaining crew integrity,” wrote Randall Slaughter, the fire chief in Atlanta.
As firefighters work in 24-hour shifts, this means that Dwyer will be suspended on two distinct days, February 13 and February 16. While this might not sound like a lot, it means that he will be receiving no pay for 48 hours of his workweek, eight more hours than the standard person’s workweek. Dwyer and the Firefighter’s Union have both publicly decried the decision to suspend him.
The day that the complaint was made public, Dwyer issued an appeal to the City of Atlanta Department of Human Resources.
Should Dwyer Seek Lawyer Advice?
Legally speaking, it’s unclear where Dwyer might stand. On the one hand, he did technically violate the firefighters’ rules of waiting for your crew to accompany you into any burning building.
However, Dwyer was also upholding the oath he swore when he became a firefighter: to put his life on the line to save others, no matter the conditions.
While Dwyer, tragically, was moments too late to save Skrine, he was acting purely altruistically in his attempt to preserve her life. Punishing Dwyer when he was only trying to do his job is perplexing.
“Time is of the essence. Captain Dwyer did exactly what firefighters are sworn oath to do. We are absolutely against the decision to suspend him,” said Atlanta Firefighters Union President Paul Gerdis.
“Not only does he have to live with the guilt of not being able to save the homeowner, but now he and his family have to deal with the financial repercussions of not getting paid for 48 hours just for trying to save someone’s life.”