Suspended Huntington, West Virginia Fire Captain Charged With DUI

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A suspended Huntington Fire Department captain later charged with driving under the influence is scheduled to have a pretrial hearing Dec. 17 in Lawrence County, Ohio, Municipal Court.

Earl F. Legg Jr., 39, was arrested on Oct. 27 when the vehicle he was driving went off a county road near Proctorville, Ohio, and hit a ditch line, according to court records. Legg's blood-alcohol level was 0.179, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08. He was charged with operating a vehicle while impaired and failure to control a vehicle, both misdemeanors.

Fire Chief Greg Fuller had suspended Legg in April after results of a random drug test showed water had been added to his urine specimen. Legg appealed his suspension to an internal investigation board, which ruled in July that he should not face any punitive action. Fuller has appealed the internal board's ruling to the Fireman's Civil Service Commission, which has yet to rule.

Legg was hired in 1989. In January 2000, he received a Medal of Valor for his help in pulling six people from a structure fire. He received a second Medal of Valor in July 2002 for entering a burning building and saving a trapped occupant.

Legg's first DUI arrest was in September 2002 in Lawrence County. He was convicted of first-offense DUI and sentenced to 20 days in jail, but the sentence was suspended when he completed a three-day driver intervention program, according to court documents. He also was sentenced to one year probation, 30 hours of community service and his driver's license was suspended six months.

Legg's second DUI arrest occurred in January 2003 near Proctorville, where he lives. He also was charged with failure to control a vehicle. Legg was convicted of second-offense DUI and initially sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years probation. The sentence was later reduced to serving five days in the Lawrence County Jail and 18 days on home confinement.

Fuller said Legg informed the Fire Department of his second DUI arrest. He was sent to counseling and stripped of all driving privileges during the year his license was suspended, Fuller said.

Legg is one of four Huntington firefighters who have either been arrested, suspended without pay or opted to retire in the past two years amid allegations of drug and alcohol use or tampering with drug tests.

``It was surprising to me that we had a problem of this significance,'' Fuller said. ``Nothing can take interest over the safety of the public and other employees, so we have taken swift and appropriate action on the charges we have been made aware of.''

Fuller said the department's four deputy chiefs recently met with firefighters to discuss the city's employee assistance program. The program is administered by counselors at St. Mary's Medical Center who offer assistance with problems ranging from substance abuse to domestic violence, Fuller said.