MFR: Possible misuse of fire trucks under investigation

MOBILE, Ala. – The June primary is about two weeks away, but one race appears to be heating up. It’s the race for District Judge in Mobile.

A Family Fun day has turned into a political controversy for District Court Judge candidate Bryan D’Angelo.

A Fox Ten News viewer took several photos of fire trucks at D’Angelo’s campaign sponsored event Sunday.

Those pictures have sparked an internal investigation into the possible misuse of fire vehicles.

“After checking we find out that it was a political event which we do not participate in. The trucks were told to leave the event immediately,” Steve Huffman.

Mobile Fire Rescue Public Information officer Steve Huffman said the Department received an email requesting the trucks.

“The email that came to us stated it was for a family fun day, which is common for us to get request for. What happened here was the division that was responsible for fulfilling these requests did not look into it thoroughly enough to realize it was a political campaign,” Huffman said.

“All I can do is tell you I’ve gone through the normal chain that anyone would do. I requested this from the fire department,” D’Angelo said.

We caught up with D’Angelo Monday and asked why he had fire trucks and personnel at his event.

“You can not campaign as a firefighter while in uniform. But these firefighters were not campaigning for me. They were just there at the event, and putting on a show for Children,” he said.

D’Angelo also pointed a finger at his opponent’s new commercial.

“He’s running a commercial right now on Fox Ten that has either an actor in a Mobile Fire Rescue shirt, so either he’s defrauding the public and portraying this person as a fire rescue personnel or there’s a disgruntled employee in fire rescue shirt on his commercial,” he said.

We tried to contact Judge Jay York to ask about the commercial to see if the courtroom shot showing of the back of the firefighters uniform was staged for the ad.
Michael Upchurch who said he was with York’s campaign returned our call late Monday. He said the video was shot by the campaign during a regular court proceeding. When asked if the campaign had the firefighters permission to be included in the political ad Upchurch said he did not know who the firefighter was. He said the campaign was not aware of Mobile Fire Rescue rules prohibiting figthers from appearing at political events in uniform, or while on duty.

As for D’Angelo he said he clearly stated in his email that his campaign was sponsoring the family fun day.

D’Angelo is on unpaid leave right now so that he can focus on his campaign.

Steve Huffman said fire trucks are often requested for community events, usually involving churches and schools. The trucks remain on duty during the event so that if a call comes in they can respond immediately from that location.

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