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CHP, Chula Vista Fire officials meet to discuss "unfortunate incident"

Officials of the California Highway Patrol and the Chula Vista Fire Department moved Wednesday to smooth over "an unfortunate incident" in which a CHP officer handcuffed a firefighter at a freeway accident Tuesday night.

The officer had ordered the firefighter to move a fire truck because he felt it was unsafely blocking a lane of traffic at the scene of a collision on Interstate 805.

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The firefighter refused, saying he needed to confer with his captain. The CHP officer handcuffed the firefighter and put him in the back of a patrol car, where he remained for about 30 minutes. No arrest was made.

The incident was caught on film and shown on local television.

On Wednesday, fire Chief Dave Hanneman and CHP Chief Jim Abele met to discuss the incident. After the meeting, neither side admitted fault but the two issued a joint statement expressing "utmost respect for each other and our respective missions. This was an isolated incident...."

The two said the incident "will be a topic of future joint training sessions, in an ongoing effort to work more efficiently together."

The fire truck had arrived at the scene of the accident before the CHP. The driver, a 12-year veteran of the fire department, parked behind an ambulance that was loading patients for transport to a hospital. The CHP officer felt the truck was causing a road hazard.

Before the joint statement was issued, the Chula Vista fire chief issued an individual statement saying, "I am very proud of how Engineer Jacob Gregoire and the other firefighters on the scene handled the situation."

Twitter: @LATsandiego

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