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  • Why No Discussion?

    Rockland, N.J.-- An off-duty FDNY firefighter swiped a fire truck from a local firehouse and drove it to a strip mall fire in Closter, N.J., -- apparently in a drunken attempt to respond to the blaze.

    Eyewitness News has learned the fire burned through a spa in the Closter Commons, a strip mall on Piermont Road, just after 11:45 p.m.

    When he heard of the blaze, the off-duty suspect rushed to the the Rockleigh Fire Station in Rockleigh, N.J. and swiped a fire truck.

    Police say 33-year-old Raymond Oprey, of Palisades, N.Y., then drove the fire truck to respond to the Closter blaze.

    Apparently when he arrived, Oprey was clearly intoxicated and refused a breathalizer test. He was charged with driving under the influence.

    Oprey was arraigned this morning in municipal court and posted $25,000 bail.

    The suspect has been a member of the FDNY for the past three years. He is assigned to Ladder 50 in the Bronx. The FDNY would only say the matter is under investigation.

    Why no discussion on this? I can imagine the outcry over "drinking in the firehouse" had this guy been a volunteer.

    Why wasn't he also charged with vehicle theft as I gather fom the article, he was not a meber at this department?
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 09-23-2006, 07:27 AM.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  • #2
    Originally posted by LaFireEducator
    Why no discussion on this? I can imagine the outcry over "drinking in the firehouse" had this guy been a volunteer.
    What difference does it make whether he is Career/Volunteer to have a "drinking in the firehouse" discussion?
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."


    • #3
      I've been trying to post this since the article came out, but keep having trouble. Stupid white screen problem or the double post that doesn't exsist.

      On the issue of this article though...

      Atleast he got there safe.

      In all seriousness though, I do have a few questions that the article doesn't mention.
      1. How'd he get into the station? Did he break into it or was a bay door left open?
      2. I doubt he was a member of the station (maybe FFRED or someone can confirm, but I'm not aware of FDNY firefighters being able to volunteer), so I guess he's lucky to only be getting a DUI instead of B&E and Grand Theft Auto.

      In regards to you're "Drinking in the firehouse" part...I think everyone will agree that this is outside of that argument due to the fact that he was drunk. I think the big issue with the "drinking in the firehouse" idea is how much is too much. I don't think anyone is of the opinion that it's okay to run a call (much less drive the truck) if you're actually drunk.
      Fir Na Tine
      Fir Na Au Saol


      • #4
        What difference does it make whether he is Career/Volunteer to have a "drinking in the firehouse" discussion?

        That's exactly my point. It doesn't matter, yet we seem to have big discussions about how drinking in the fire service is a volunteer issue.
        I just found it interesting that nobody decided to discuss the matter in this case, even though it has been up for a full day.

        Not only was this guy drinking, but he apprently thought it was fine to walk into a fire station where he wasn't a member, drunk, get into a truck that he had no right being in and driving it to a fire where he had no right to be. To me that's a big deal, but it seemed to escape under the radar of everyone in here. In the past, something like this would usually be discussed quickly. Why not now?

        Am I going to post my speculation as to why? No, but I do have some ideas that are probably better kept to myself.

        I truly hope that this guy is charged and convicted, and disclipne on the FDNY is swift and harsh, including the possibility of termination. He apprently is not what the fire service, career or volunteer, needs.
        Last edited by LaFireEducator; 09-23-2006, 08:16 AM.
        Train to fight the fires you fight.


        • #5
          First of all, let's get the facts accurate here. I'm not sure what source you used for that article, but it's riddled with errors and omissions. Here is the article from the local paper:

          FDNY firefighter from Palisades is accused of DWI, stealing firetruck

          (Original Publication: September 23, 2006)

          An off-duty New York City firefighter from Palisades is accused of breaking into a New Jersey firehouse and taking its truck for a drunken ride to a nearby fire scene, police said yesterday.

          Raymond Oprey of 33 Horne Tooke Road was charged with burglary and driving while intoxicated when he responded Thursday to a three-alarm fire just south of the New York border in a Rockleigh, N.J., firetruck despite not being a member of that department, police said.

          The 33-year-old arrived alone at the Closter Commons Shopping Center on Piermont Road about 11:50 p.m., about 45 minutes after the fire was reported, said Sgt. James Winters of the Closter Police Department.

          Oprey was seen driving across a grass median and into the parking lot of the shopping center. When he got out of the pumper truck, he reported to the command post behind the buildings, police said.

          "He was driving erratically when he came in," Winters said. "Police detained him and immediately noticed he was intoxicated."

          Closter police charged him with driving while intoxicated and refusing a Breathalyzer test, both misdemeanors; and three traffic violations, including using a motor vehicle without consent, careless driving and driving without headlights.

          Northvale police, who have jurisdiction over Rockleigh, yesterday charged Oprey with burglary and unlawfully taking a firetruck, both third-degree felonies.

          Oprey was not a member of the Rockleigh Volunteer Fire Department, Northvale Police Chief Bruce Tietjen said yesterday.

          "He's not known to the chief," Tietjen said, referring to the Rockleigh fire chief, who has about15 to 20 volunteers in his department.

          Tietjen said there was no sign of forced entry at the firehouse and police were investigating how Oprey learned of the fire and gained access to the truck.

          Oprey works at Ladder 50 in the Bronx and has been a firefighter for three years, the New York Fire Department confirmed yesterday.

          Farrell Sklerov, a spokesman for the FDNY, said the matter is under investigation and the department wouldn't make any disciplinary determinations until that is completed.

          "It depends on what they find out," he said. "Then they'll determine what to do."

          New Jersey firefighters responded at 11:06 p.m. to the blaze, which started at Sol Mar Spa and spread to two adjacent buildings. Nine departments from New Jersey responded, and the fire was under control in about an hour, Winters said. Rockleigh was not among the responders.

          Although Oprey lives in Rockland, Gordon Wren Jr., the county's fire coordinator, said he was not a member of nor had any connection with any of Rockland's volunteer fire departments.

          Oprey was arraigned yesterday in a Northvale court and released on $25,000 bond. He is due to appear in Bergen County Court at a future date.
          As the article points out he WAS charged with "burglary and unlawfully taking a firetruck, both third-degree felonies" in addition to a few misdemeanors. Again, bad source = bad information.

          What does "drinking in the firehouse" have to do with this? This guy is NOT a volunteer with any dept here in Rockland, nor is there any mention whatsoever of him drinking at any firehouse, anywhere. This is not a "career vs vollie" issue, nor is it a "firemen drinking in the firehouse" issue, so do not make it out to be one. This yahoo was on his own, off duty, intoxicated, and decided to engage in the stupidity he did.

          Lastly, there are countless FDNY guys that are vollies in the suburban communities they live in. Probably a lot more than people realize. Rockland, Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, Putnum, Orange and Dutchess Counties are full of them.
          Last edited by ; 09-23-2006, 08:18 AM.


          • #6
            6 ...

            Article I copied was from the Firehouse site. They did not have in info that he was charged with anything beyond DWI.

            I'm glad to see that he was charged for the other acts as well.
            Train to fight the fires you fight.


            • #7
              Originally posted by LaFireEducator
              6 ...

              Article I copied was from the Firehouse site. They did not have in info that he was charged with anything beyond DWI.
              Fair enough, I didn't realize they had it posted to begin with, much less hadn't posted the updates to the story.

              You might well be right, had he been a vollie, there might've been a 10 page discussion full of outrage. I just don't think that starting a topic by asking why a paid guy doesn't get the same amount of outrage is approaching it from the right angle. It comes across as being defensive or passive-aggressive. I'm certainly not going to say it's fair if one side gets it while the other doesn't, but it sure doesn't help pointing it out. My bottom line is that this guy is a chucklehead, whether he gets paid to fight fire or not. He's a firefighter, and as I've said countless times before, most of the public really either doesn't know or doesn't care what the difference is between paid or vollie or FDNY or NYFD or what have you. They see us as FIREFIGHTERS, period. So when one of our own does something like this, it reflects poorly on us all, right across the board.
              Last edited by ; 09-23-2006, 08:35 AM.


              • #8
                Here is todays local paper.
                Oprey was detained until 6 a.m. Friday, when he was released on a $25,000 bond. If convicted, he faces three to five years in jail and up to $15,000 in fine for the burglary and unlawful-taking charges
                Off-duty firefighter catches heat for 'help'
                Saturday, September 23, 2006

                By EUNNIE PARK and SONI SANGHA
                STAFF WRITERS

                An off-duty New York City firefighter who police say had too much to drink allegedly stole a firetruck and drove it to a burning building in Closter with the intention of helping battle the blaze.

                Raymond Oprey, 33, of Palisades, N.Y., was responding Thursday to an 11:06 p.m. fire at Closter Commons -- to which he was not called -- when he swiped a pumper truck from the Rockleigh Fire Department, police said.

                He drove the vehicle to the fire about 3 miles away, making several radio transmissions en route, saying, "I'm on the way," and "I have the 'agua,' [water]" said Northvale Police Capt. Vincent St. Angelo.

                Oprey pulled into the parking lot at Closter Commons by driving "erratically" over a lawn. He then walked to the emergency command post and asked if anyone needed help, officials said.

                "His behavior was quite calm and described as kind of happy-go-lucky," said Sgt. James Winters of the Closter Police Department. "He was there to help out."

                Officials had noticed the suspicious vehicle as soon as Oprey pulled into the lot, and they were already discussing the matter at the command post when he came over, Winters said.

                "Right away, he was detained by the Police Department until we could investigate, and then he was placed under arrest," Winters said.

                Oprey refused a Breathalyzer test. He was charged with DWI and three other minor motor vehicle charges in Closter, Winters said. No one was injured as a result of his actions, police said.

                Oprey then was taken to the Northvale police station, where he was charged with burglary to the firehouse and unlawful taking of the firetruck. Northvale provides police services for Rockleigh, said Police Chief Bruce Tietjen.

                Oprey was detained until 6 a.m. Friday, when he was released on a $25,000 bond. If convicted, he faces three to five years in jail and up to $15,000 in fine for the burglary and unlawful-taking charges.

                Oprey did not respond to calls seeking comment, and no one answered the phone at his home, which is less than a mile from the Rockleigh Firehouse.

                One neighbor, John Albin, said Oprey is a "great kid" and a "funny guy," who had spent time at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks.

                "He should be presumed innocent until proven guilty," Albin said. "I'm sure he was trying to help out like most firefighters do."

                Farrell Sklerov, a spokesman for the Fire Department of New York, said Oprey has been a full-time paid firefighter for three years, assigned to Ladder 50 in the Bronx. The New Jersey incident is under investigation, and it could result in "a range of consequences," he said, declining to elaborate.

                Local officials are still investigating how Oprey took the firetruck in Rockleigh.

                At the time of the Closter fire, a mutual aid call was out for fire departments in Demarest, Norwood, Northvale and Cresskill. Rockleigh was not called, so there was no activity at that firehouse, Tietjen said.

                Usually, the firehouses are kept locked. However, the truck inside the building is left unlocked with the keys inside -- "for time-saving purposes, so [firefighters] can just jump in the truck and take off when they need to," Tietjen said.

                "We're not sure if the [building]'s door was left ajar or if it was left unlocked," he said. "The only thing I can say for sure is that there were no signs of forced entry."

                Oprey was immediately noticed at the Closter fire scene because most of the firefighters in the towns are acquainted with each other from frequent mutual aid emergencies, Winters said.

                "Right away, everyone was asking, 'Does anyone know this guy?' and no one had ever met him or recognized him," Winters said. "We work very closely in this area. ... we almost know every firefighter by sight."

                The incident did not distract from the actual fire, which engulfed three of the 15 stores in the plaza and spread to their roofs, Winters said. No one was injured, and the fire was reported under control at about 12:15 a.m. Friday.

                The fire is under investigation by the Closter Fire Prevention Bureau.

                "It seems as though it was accidental. We believe there was some sort of work going on," said Winters, who is also the town's emergency management coordinator.

                E-mail: [email protected]. Staff writer Jason Tsai contributed to this article.


                • #9
                  Well like I said before, I couldn't post the topic for some reason, it's entirely possible others were having the same issue.

                  I am also glad that he got charged with more than a DUI. The firehouse.com article didn't mention much.
                  Fir Na Tine
                  Fir Na Au Saol


                  • #10
                    We'll probably post an update on Monday, but the story we have from WABC is the only available with the base details.



                    • #11
                      Originally posted by LaFireEducator
                      I can imagine the outcry over "drinking in the firehouse" had this guy been a volunteer.

                      Why do you always try to play that card? I just don't get it. The "other people do it" line doesn't fly with me, because all-too-often this weak angle is perpetuated by.... yep, that's right, YOU.
                      Last edited by Resq14; 09-23-2006, 01:18 PM.
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                      • #12
                        Why no discussion on this? I can imagine the outcry over "drinking in the firehouse" had this guy been a volunteer.QUOTE]

                        Exactly what would you like us to discuss? Looking at the article we could discuss what employees do off duty on their own time. We could discuss how dangerous drunk driving is. We could discuss station/apparatus security. How about the simple truth. A person who happens to be a firefighter got drunk, broke into a firehouse, stole a firetruck, drove it drunk, and got arrested (allegedley of course ). Would this story have made it to the front page if this guy was anything other than a firefighter? The outrage that is routinely expressed over "drinking in the firehouse" is IMHO a completely different circumstance. There's no need to stir the pot over this I think we can all agree that this individual should be prosecuted and held accountable. His employeer is no doubt watching this situation and taken the appropriate actions as dictated by their SOP's/SOG's, rules, regulations, etc.


                        • #13
                          Have they determined the cause of the fire yet?
                          Steve Gallagher
                          IACOJ BOT
                          "I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Steamer;
                            Have they determined the cause of the fire yet?
                            The sad thing is, although it doesn't really make any difference, is that the fire didn't look like very much from the local news footage.....at least if it was really cookin'....


                            • #15
                              Maybe just maybe La ,the general population of these forums understand that if this guy did something as bone-headed as he is accused of, the story speaks for itself. Kudos to you for trying to start a paid/volunteer match though.
                              IAFF-IACOJ PROUD


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