SC Fire Chief Arrested After Dispute With Deputies

CHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCNC) -- Fire chiefs from across Chester County will be reviewing the actions of one of their own Wednesday night and demanding answers behind a fight with sheriff's deputies that landed a local fire chief in jail.

The Chester Fire Chiefs Association says it will be issuing a statement about the fight and West Chester Volunteer Fire Department Chief Andy Martin's arrest.

Others call the fight between firefighters and law enforcement a tragedy for the public that needs to be resolved quickly.

A tractor trailer in a ditch on Highway 9 in Chester County Friday night sparked the fight neighbors are still talking about.

"Just don't make sense to me," said neighbor David Corder.

"You really want to show that for South Carolina and Chester? No," said neighbor Angela Threatt.

The argument, according to the incident report, was over who had control of the scene and was responsible for directing traffic and shutting down the highway.

The incident report says West Chester Volunteer Fire Department Chief Andy Martin and his brother Tommy, a volunteer firefighter, weren't happy some deputies left and then came back. They let Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood and others know it.

The confrontation got physical and involved swearing.

Sheriff Underwood and Captain Darby had to grab Thomas Martin and pull him off of Captain Sprouse's leg, the report says.

Andrew Martin also began to fight by pushing and pulling and did not comply with verbal commands, the report continues.

Deputies arrested and charged both with assault and disorderly conduct.

The arrests came the next day at the Martins' respective homes-- a move some question as being potentially vindictive, but others say is simply law enforcement doing their job, no matter who it involves.

Andy Martin's actions are what the Chester County Fire Chiefs' Association will review Wednesday night.

Also to see who, if anyone, broke the law.

Other fire officials say they're trained that first responders control accident scenes and Martin likely assumed it was his command and control.

County officials want resolution, saying the last thing the people of Chester County need is firefighters and deputies bickering and fighting.

"That's not the way, supposed to work with each other, not against each other," said Threatt.

She feels the Martins should at least be reprimanded by their peers, in addition to dealing with the charges against them.

NBC Charlotte called Martin but didn't hear back.

Sheriff Underwood says if the fire chiefs plan to go over the fight Wednesday night, he wishes he or someone from his office would have been invited to take part in that discussion.

Martin's fight and arrest is expected to come up again Monday night as a personnel matter before a different group, the Chester County Rural Fire Commission.


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