William White, a 16-year veteran, has been suspended without pay for 30 days and the chief has recommended he be fired for his “unbecoming conduct while he was off-duty,” Assistant Fire Chief Francis Deleonibus said.
White, 50, appeared without an attorney and did not comment as he held his head in his hands during a video arraignment from the Allegheny County Jail on Wednesday. A district judge ordered him to remain behind bars until he is accepted by an alcohol-treatment center.
A Rivers Casino security guard saw White urinating in a parking lot Wednesday about 2:15 a.m., police said. White told the guard he was a firefighter and needed help getting home, authorities said.
The guard drove White to the casino’s main entrance and offered to call a taxi, police said. Instead, White allegedly jumped out of the security truck and began arguing with a woman. When the guard got out of the truck to intervene, White jumped in and drove off, according to a police complaint.
An officer saw the truck driving the wrong way down a nearby road as the description of the stolen vehicle came over the police radio. The officer’s cruiser was damaged in the chase, but nobody was hurt. White was arrested a few blocks from his house.
White faces a Jan. 7 preliminary hearing on theft, receiving stolen property, drunken driving and other charges. Police say a breath test showed his blood-alcohol content was 0.226, nearly three times the state’s legal limit.
The chief’s recommendation that White be fired is nonbinding and must be heard by a trial board composed of three fellow firefighters, who could clear White or impose other discipline, Deleonibus said.
White has no criminal record save a drunken-driving arrest in 1995 in neighboring Butler County. That charge was dismissed when the state trooper who filed it failed to show up for trial.
White’s arrest comes two months after the city firefighters union agreed to random drug testing for the first time in history. Deleonibus said White is not being disciplined under that policy but under state civil service law.
The drug-testing policy was adopted following several incidents involving city firefighters, including one who fed his heroin habit by stealing money from fellow firefighters while answering false alarms he had called in.
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