The second-in-command of the San Francisco Fire Department, Deputy Chief Fred Sanchez, stepped down yesterday due to controversy over his actions involving a drunk battalion chief. Some people just can't take the heat, we guess.
Uhh, sorry, bad joke.
We begin our story last Friday when Battalion Chief Stephen Gritsch showed up at HQ drunk. At 9 in the morning. While several people commented on Gritsch's alcohol breath, Sanchez didn't do anything about it. In fact, he told Gritsch to go back to his station and by go back to his station, we mean get in a departmental car and drive to go back on duty. When SFFD Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White heard about the incident later on (she was not in the office when Gritsch was there), she called him back and had him tested for blood alcohol content, a level that was measured at 0.12 percent. The legal level is .08. Gritsch was suspended and has been recommended to be fired.
Gritsch's little problem with tipsiness comes at a time when the SFFD has been under the gun for too much drinking on the job. Earlier this year, twenty-eight fireman firemen sued the department claiming that drinking is "frequent, open and notorious" and a female firefighter sued the department earlier for sexual harassment, claiming that all the boozing was partially behind it all. And last year, a civil grand jury said that the SFFD "knows, or should know, it has a problem." This is also going on beneath an undercurrent of the usual tensions involved in a big city fire department, wherein everyone hates each other. Didn't we see all of this on "Third Watch?"