An Orange County firefighter violated department policy when he took his crewmen with him to watch his son's Pop Warner football game in Costa Mesa while on duty earlier this month, department officials said Friday.
"You will occasionally see firefighters at football games and other community events and cheering the community on," said Orange County Fire Authority Battalion Chief Kris Concepcion. "But in this particular situation, which is an anomaly, this situation was outside of the policy."
On Oct. 1, the hazardous materials crew based in Irvine went to Jim Scott Stadium at Estancia High School for a couple hours to watch one of the crewman's sons play on the Rancho Santa Margarita Pee Wee Eagles against Costa Mesa's Pee Wee Eagles.
The crew is allowed to do such things while on duty, as long as members remain in their response zone, Concepcion said. In this crew's case, they should have stayed in Irvine.
"They did violate policy, and we're handling it appropriately," he said. "Because it's a personnel matter, we can't give details on the appropriate action. Rest assured that we, the fire authority, take public safety very seriously."
The crew didn't miss any calls for service while they were out of the city, Concepcion said.
OCFA heard about the incident from Costa Mesa CEO Tom Hatch, who received a complaint from Pop Warner President Chris Cox after the game.
"All of them were in uniform," Cox wrote to Hatch. "As a taxpayer, I also question the wisdom of having three on-duty firefighters spend four hours away from their station and at a Pop Warner football game. I wasn't the only person to notice, either."
Concepcion said OCFA records indicate the crew was at the game for less than two hours.
"The Orange County Fire Authority truck was parked in a fire lane at the stadium, causing players and fans to have to go around it to get to the stadium," Cox wrote. "Needless to say, it was annoying, and I received several complaints. I am hoping you could make sure this doesn't happen again."
Costa Mesa beat Rancho Santa Margarita, 24-0.