Three volunteer firefighters in three different states are in the news today for misconduct, and the charges are no surprise: arson and theft from a volunteer fire department.
In Idaho, an 18-year-old volunteer firefighter has been arrested for setting a wildfire fire that has already claimed one home and burned over 250 acres. Nathaniel Bartholomew, a firefighter with the Clear Creek Fire Department, was arrested Monday evening while he was actively fighting the Karney Fire that at the time was only 15% contained.
In North Carolina, a deputy chief and treasurer of a volunteer department has been charged with embezzling $300,000 from the department. Joey Burgette was arrested last week on eight felony counts. According to police, the 42-year-old deputy chief from the Warsaw Fire Department also served as department treasurer.
And in Defiance, Ohio, a volunteer firefighter was arrested for setting a riding lawnmower inside his garage on fire last June. Mark Paul Seibert, 29, is facing two aggravated arson counts in Defiance County Common Pleas Court. The fire occurred on June 18, 2012. According to news reports, the offenses were considered aggravated because someone was sleeping inside the house at the time. Seibert was affiliated with several area fire departments, including Defiance City Fire Department, South Richland and Highland Township fire departments. He also volunteered with the Defiance County Sheriff’s Office.
A volunteer firefighter suspected in a series of fires in Maine last summer, accepted a plea agreement last week and began serving a prison term.
Timothy Tiess, 37, of the Pleasant Point Fire Department, was charged with five counts of arson and one charge of aggravated criminal mischief related to a series of fires in July 2010. He was suspected of setting both wildland and structure fires but was only charged for the wildland fires.
This was apparently not Tiess’s first go-round with setting fires. The Bangor Daily News is reporting that Tiess had three prior convictions for fire-related incidents back in the 1990s involving structures in southern Maine. No word on how he was able to continue as a firefighter… but don’t discount a good attorney. Despite the five arson charges, Tiess only pled guilty to a single count of aggravated criminal mischief. He is serving an 18 month sentence.
Another firefighter has been charged with arson, this time a paid-on-call firefighter in Presque Isle, Maine. He is accused of setting a fire at Northeast Packaging Co., where he was also employed. The fire last Friday, November 13th, 2009, destroyed the 150 by 300 foot warehouse. Over 50 firefighters from 6 area departments responded.
Following his arrest, the 25 year old suspect was suspended from the fire department. The department reported that it already had policies requiring background and reference checks for new members.