Schenectady firefighters’ holiday party is marred by fights
SCHENECTADY The Schenectady firefighters’ holiday party apparently got a little too loose last week.
Two fights broke out — one a minor scuffle and then a larger brawl that included tables and chairs being thrown around the Van Dyck Restaurant banquet room, according to witnesses.
Fire Chief Michael Della Rocco said he plans to discipline at least two firefighters for their part in the fracas, but no one will be fired. He said he didn’t believe the fight led to damaging blows.
“As far as I know, nobody was hurt,” he said.
A firefighter said the fight began when one firefighter insulted all of the members of Platoon One. A member of that platoon responded by attacking him.
It came near the end of a long party in which there was an open bar.
The party was sponsored by the firefighters’ union.
Della Rocco has begun the process of interviewing every witness before he makes a decision about how to discipline those involved.
“Even though this was an off-duty incident, I take it very seriously,” he said. “I don’t want to minimize it. We hold our firefighters to a higher standard.”
No firefighter is likely to be terminated, he said, explaining that he doesn’t believe their actions rise to that level. Suspensions or loss of vacation time are possible, however.
“If there is any departmental discipline that can be applied, that will happen, I assure you,” he said. “There’s no ‘probably’ about it. I expect it will happen.”
Della Rocco needs to interview many firefighters before meting out punishment.
“It’s probably going to take me until after the Christmas holidays to talk to everyone, due to vacations,” he said.
The managers of the Van Dyck did not return calls.