CentervilleFire ChiefFaces Discipline for Drinking Before Water Rescue

Centerville Fire Chief Vern Milburn responded to a water rescue call with a BAC of 0.026, despite being below the legal limit. He was placed on administrative leave during an internal investigation into the incident, which raised concerns about judgment and accountability.

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Bijay Laxmi
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CentervilleFire ChiefFaces Discipline for Drinking Before Water Rescue

CentervilleFire ChiefFaces Discipline for Drinking Before Water Rescue

Centerville Fire Chief Vern Milburn is facing disciplinary action after responding to a water rescue call on May 3 with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.026, despite being below the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle in Iowa.

Milburn admitted to being wrong in responding to the call after consuming beer hours earlier. He was placed on administrative leave during an internal investigation into the incident. The fire chief drove his personal vehicle to the fire station and rode in an apparatus to the scene.

Why this matters: This incident raises concerns about the judgment and accountability of those in positions of authority, particularly in emergency response situations where lives are at stake. It also highlights the importance of enforcing department policies and maintaining high standards of conduct among public safety officials.

Upon arriving at the scene, Milburn took command and made the decision not to deploy a rescue boat, citing safety concerns. "Our staff are not trained for swift water rescue and did not have a boat with a motor or lights to perform the rescue safely," said Milburn.

The incident highlights the importance of adhering to department policies, particularly those related to substance use and impairment while on duty. Centerville has a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol consumption by firefighters. The city took the complaint against Milburn seriously and immediately addressed it through an internal investigation.

While the details of the disciplinary action against Milburn have not been disclosed, the fire chief's conduct raises concerns about judgment and the ability to effectively lead emergency response efforts. The incident serves as a reminder that those entrusted with public safety must be held to the highest standards of conduct and professionalism, both on and off duty.