Shamokin City Council on Monday suspended a father and son, both high-ranking first responders, after a junior firefighter suffered second-degree burns during a training exercise in early July.
Battalion Fire Chief Stephen Jeffery and Friendship Fire Co. Capt. Thomas Jeffery are suspended pending further investigation, according to The ( Shamokin) News-Item.
An injury report obtained by the News-Item said that 17-year-old James Wood, of Friendship Fire Co., suffered a steam burn to his left wrist while participating in a supervised training where members observed how the fire behaved in an enclosed CONEX box, which is a metal reusable shipping container.
Milbrand, the public safety director and also a councilman, said he learned about the incident from Shamokin Fire Chief Ken Pilkus on July 2, the day of the training exercise at the Selinsgrove Fire Department, and received a copy from Pilkus on July 16 of an injury report issued by Stephen Jeffery to the Shamokin Fire Bureau.
Jeffery, who attended the training with his son and several other members of Friendship Fire Co., said in his report that Wood was wearing full firefighting equipment.
Milbrand responded to the report by putting together a group to investigate the incident, which found that the junior firefighter suffered second-degree burns to both wrists and that his gloves didn’t fit properly. Milbrand also said that the fire started at the training wasn’t small but rather an “extremely hot fire,” according to the story, and that the training met none of the criteria under Pennsylvania State Act 155 other than James being 17 years old.
That prompted Milbrand to tell the News-Item on July 18 that disciplinary action might be taken.
Milbrand, Councilwoman Barbara Moyer, Councilwoman Doreen Annis and Mayor Rick Ulrich voted to approve the suspensions.
Councilwoman Tonya Leschinskie voted no, drawing the ire of William Wood, who said his son could have been killed during the session.
“Both hands got burned — thankfully, that’s all he had,” Wood said while offering to show Leschinskie the photos of his child’s burns, according to The News-Item story. “This is not going to be the end of it.”