[Vision2020] Wake up call is needed for Moscow fire officers

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Wed May 9 04:11:06 PDT 2012

I can tell you this without hesitation or qualification . . .

When I was a platoon sergeant in the Army, if controlled substances were found in my desk at the platoon CP, I would have been brought up on charges and lost all my service-connected benefits upon either a court-martial or administrative general discharge.

If this incident is not thoroughly investigated, and facts brought to light, I have lost all of my respect and pride in the Moscow Fire Department.

Courtesy of today's (May 9, 2012) Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

OUR VIEW Wake up call is needed for Moscow fire officers

As any firefighter knows, situations can go bad at any moment, and the consequences can be disastrous if procedures and common sense aren't followed.

On Feb. 14, two volunteer firefighters said they found suspected drugs and paraphernalia in a resident firefighter's desk at Fire Station No. 1. They told their shift supervisor, Capt. Dan Carscallen, who, in turn, contacted Fire Chief Ed Button.

The result of that contact is the subject of two complaints filed with the city that allege Carscallen and Button tried to cover up the incident.

According to one complaint, they were told to get rid of the drugs.

In a Monday Daily News story, Button said he only wanted them out of the building, essentially treating them like alcohol.

"I'm not sure what the proper procedures were at the time, and we'd never dealt with something like that," Carscallen said. "I never personally saw what they found."

And that was a huge mistake.

Regardless of the time he was called, as the duty officer that evening, Carscallen should have gone to the station to assess the situation. Failing that, Button should have been there.

The drug in question was alleged to be Oxycodone, a federally controlled narcotic pain killer. Possession of the drug without a prescription is a crime. Given that, law enforcement should have been called for the sake of all involved. That was not the case and we have to wonder why.

The firefighter who allegedly had the drugs was tested the next day, although such testing is not mandatory of the volunteers. The results of the test were negative.

The city acknowledges receiving the complaints and has investigated the allegations. 

Unfortunately the results are confidential. It's a personnel matter because of Button, and that's why they won't say. The complaint was handled as a citizen complaint because the two firefighters are volunteers. So far, neither the Moscow Police Department nor the Latah County Sheriff's Office has received any referrals to further investigate the incident.
We hope that changes.

We also would expect the city to re-evaluate its fire department policies, including mandatory drug testing for anyone associated with the department.

Firefighters are expected to be ready to go at a moment's notice when a call comes in. The same should apply to their commanding officers when they are called in the middle of the night for nonfire emergencies.


Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"If not us, who?
If not now, when?"

- Unknown

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