Fighting Firefighters

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A leader in Augusta’s fire department is suspended, accused of hitting another firefighter while on the job

Fighting a fire can get hectic, and you have to have someone in charge, and that’s usually the Battalion Chief. But one firefighter says his chief went too far when he pushed him and now he's fighting back.

Sergeant John Pruitt is a 37 year veteran of the Augusta Fire Department. He says he's never had any problems on the job, until according to him, he was attacked by Battalion Chief John Sheridan.

“He came in physically pushing on me, and snatching on me,” says Pruitt.

During this big fire on Broad Street a few weeks ago, Sgt. Pruitt says he was fighting the fire when Chief Sheridan told him to give up his hose and let him take over. He says when did not do it right away, he was hit.

“It was like a push and shove match to start with. I had not even an opportunity to push him back or do anything,” says Pruitt.

Sgt. Pruitt filed a police report and a complaint with fire administration because, he says, this is not the first time the chief has lost his cool.

“He has a history of violence, a history of abuse with the firemen he works for,” says Pruitt.

After an investigation, Chief Sheridan was suspended for two days. We called him, but he would not talk about the incident and referred us to his attorney who says his client was just doing his job.

“Sometimes you point or tap on the shoulder, there was nothing other than that,” says attorney Jack Long.

Wednesday, Pruitt was given a letter from fire administration telling him the investigation was over and that all issues had been addressed. But, he's pressing for assault charges because he says the chief's two-day suspension is not enough.

In the meantime, attorney Jack Long says they are appealing the suspension.

“We don’t think they had all the facts, and everybody that will come out, that everything he did was correct,” says Long.

A court hearing is scheduled on May 11th. That’s when Chief Sheridan will know if he faces simple battery charges.

A hearing to appeal the city's suspension has not been set, but that will involve the city administrator and human resources.

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