MANVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A volunteer firefighter who tried to be a hero in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, ended up in hot water instead.
He did something that is forbidden, and then got busted on Facebook, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.
Gary Barras, a former volunteer firefighter, claims his superiors in Manville suspended him for going to Toms River to help residents down the Jersey Shore hit hard by Sandy.
“It was the right thing to do and it was what you’re supposed to do,” Barras said.
While Barras claims he has since resigned from the Manville Fire Department, officials said he was dismissed not for going but for lying and becoming belligerent.
“When he came back, the way he handled the situation misrepresented the truth and almost getting into a fight with the chief,” Mayor Angelo Corradino said.
“I was responding to being pushed into a corner and being screamed at on the phone,” Barras said.
The story goes back to the days that followed Sandy. Fire officials said Barras was told he could go and help hurricane victims, but he was not allowed to represent the Manville Fire Department.
Then they said they saw a Facebook picture of Barras wearing Manville bunker gear in front of a Toms River fire truck, expensive bunker gear that can cost close to $3,000.
“And you do not take your town-owned fire department bunker gear, while he in turn went in, did that and the other members who went with him took theirs,” Assistant Fire Chief John Bentz said.
“I admit I did that, but I really wasn’t expecting to use it,” Barras said.
The deputy chief said Barras was sent back to Manville by a coordinator in Toms River.
“They asked ‘where are you from?’ I obviously said Manville,” Barras said.
Barras said he regrets nothing and that he would do it again, take his town-owned bunker gear and head into a disaster.
Three other firefighters were also suspended, but the mayor said two were reinstated and a third one resigned.
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