Five More Miramar, Florida Firefighters Suspended in Drug Probe

Still reeling from drug arrests of a captain and a lieutenant, Miramar Fire-Rescue Chief James Hunt said Monday five more firefighters had been suspended in connection with the investigation. The five, whom he would not identify, have not been arrested.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested Lt. Carey Kovacs, 29, and Capt. Valentin Srbovan, 37, last week. According to an arrest report, Kovacs, a six-year department veteran, admitted to selling Ecstasy to several Miramar firefighters and taking the drug with co-workers at raves at his Davie home. His roommate, Charles Dixon, was arrested after Ecstasy and hydrocodone, for which he had no prescription, were found in his bedroom.

Hunt said the identities of the firefighters suspended Monday for their involvement had been provided to the department by the DEA.

He said he does not expect more suspensions.

''The mood of the department is still... shock. The vast majority of the people in the department are very good firefighter-paramedics,'' Hunt said. ``And they're in disbelief right now.''

Mayor Lori Moseley said it is the city's responsibility to react to the allegations. ''I'm very disappointed that this is happening,'' she said. ``One person on these charges is too many. And right now they will be suspended with pay, because obviously you're innocent until proven guilty. But if there is drug use, then they shouldn't be working.''

Neither Kovacs nor Srbovan, with the department for 15 years, could be reached for comment Monday. Both were released from jail on bond. Kovacs, whose salary is over $63,000 a year, was arrested on four counts: possession of MDMA, known as Ecstasy, with intent to sell; possession of cocaine; possession of steroids, which police said he admitted to buying from another firefighter, and possession of promethazine and methocarbamol with no prescription. Srbovan, whose salary is about $85,000 a year, was arrested on one count of MDMA possession.

In recent job evaluations, both men scored either average or above average. Srbovan, according to his latest evaluation, ''demonstrates effective support'' of the city's policies, including those on a drug-free workplace.

Michael Montagne, a professor at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy who studies social aspects of drug use, said it's ''not typical'' to hear of firefighters abusing drugs like Ecstasy. ''Firefighters usually are pretty clean,'' he said. And if not, the drugs they more commonly would abuse are alcohol, marijuana or tranquilizers -- ``something to reduce the stress.''

Ecstasy's short-term effects can include hyperstimulation, a fast heart rate and dehydration, Montagne said. It can take a few days for someone who has become exhausted on the drug to recover.