Pa. Chief Upset with FFs' Behavior


Police said a Pittsburgh firefighter was arrested for allegedly threatening to kill his wife, marking the latest in a series of recent criminal cases involving city firefighters.

George Tarrant, 50, of East Liberty, is charged with harassment and stalking after an argument with his wife Thursday night at their home on Broadcrest Drive, police said.

"When she went into the bedroom, she saw a gun on top of the television surrounded by bullets with her name on them. George stated he was going to kill her first before he kills everyone else," according to the criminal complaint.

The wife called police and Tarrant was arrested.

"Well, my immediate reaction would not qualify for filming. I was angry because I am frustrated with the image that one percent of the firefighters is giving the whole bureau," said Fire Chief Darryl Jones. "If the public loses confidence in us and our ability to do our job, then we are useless."

Tarrant, who remains in the Allegheny County Jail pending a mental health evaluation, has been charged with harassment and stalking.

Channel 4 Action News' Janelle Hall reported that the woman told police that Tarrant might be suffering from depression and that he had been arrested in the past for hitting and choking her.

A protection from abuse order was filed against Tarrant in August 2006. Around the same time, he pleaded guilty to a summary charge of harassment.

Jones said on Friday that Pennsylvania has very strict laws regarding when a firefighter can be fired, and a PFA and a summary conviction are not enough to do it.

Jones said he's recommending an unpaid suspension for Tarrant, pending the outcome of an internal hearing by a fire trial board. Only Public Safety Director Michael Huss can actually suspend firefighters.

Three other Pittsburgh firefighters have had run-ins with the law in the past few months.

Timothy Coyne was arrested in January after an incident on the South Side where police said Coyne assaulted a man while under the influence of alcohol. The victim later said that he didn't want to press charges.

In December, William White was charged with stealing a security vehicle from Rivers Casino. Police said he was also driving drunk at the time. White has a court hearing scheduled for April.

Fire Capt. Frank Becker was arrested last December after allegedly driving through an intersection without stopping. Police said that cocaine was found in his car and his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit for driving. Becker was due to have a court hearing this week.

"The trend is troubling," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said Friday. "We've talked about it previously. We're doing everything in our power to -- based on state law -- to try to come down hard on these offenders."

Jones said he's urging firefighters to seek counseling for any issues they may have before they get in trouble. He also said that all the problems being reported lately are from 1 percent of his crew.

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