On-Duty Fla. Firefighters Play Tennis Out of Village

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. --

The Village of Key Biscayne has launched a massive investigation after Local 10 cameras spotted on-duty firefighters playing tennis outside the village limits.

The senior ranking officer at the tennis courts is now being asked to turn in a report to the Village manager to explain the incident that has outraged tax-paying residents.

"Not right -- it's not right," said one resident.

"I think it's totally uncalled for and incorrect," added another.

On Oct. 20, nine firefighers pulled up to the courts at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in a rescue unit, a fire truck and a support vehicle.

Officials told Local 10 that was the entire shift, which left no firefighters or paramedics within the village limits.

"I don't know what to think. I have never seen anything like that," said a Key Biscayne resident.

As six of the nine firefighters volleyed back and forth, a call came over the radio and the men took off running.

The village manager said no calls came into the station at that time, so it appears the firefighters were not running to an emergency, but running away from Local 10 cameras.

"I think there was an extreme error in judgment. I was not aware this was taking place," said interim Village manager John Gilbert, who started the fire department 18 years ago.

"There will be an investigation. We will get their side in what they did and why they did it, and I will make some decisions on what happens next," Gilbert said.

Key Biscayne Mayor Frank Caplan expressed concern that firefighters on duty were playing tennis outside their jurisdiction, which might have had life-or-death consequences in a true emergency.

"There would be a delay in response time, which there surely would be if a call came in," said Caplan. "Absent other coverage on the island, there would be a delay."

As it stands, the firefighters violated no existing department policy.

"If there is a need to establish a policy for something that should be common sense, I will do it," said Gilbert.

The Key Biscayne fire station has its own fitness area, which includes a gym and a basketball court.

Copyright 2011 by Post-Newsweek Stations. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

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