Firefighter’s Heroic Efforts to Pull Black Elderly Woman from Deadly Blaze Gets Him Suspended Without Pay, Community Sounds Off

A fire chief in Atlanta, Georgia is facing a four-day suspension after rushing into a burning home without his crew to save the life of an elderly woman.

In a complaint, the Atlanta Fire Department claims Capt. Daniel Dwyer broke protocol last June when he threw himself into danger to rescue 95-year-old Sally Skrine. The deadly blaze, which officials believe started in Skrine’s kitchen, didn’t deter the 15-year fire vet from going in and pulling her to safety.

But rather than being honored for his heroics, Dwyer is set to be suspended without pay, local station 11Alive reports.

A “notice of final adverse action” complaint filed last week chides the fire captain for “enter[ing] the structure without your crew members, which is in immediate conflict with no freelancing, accountability and maintaining crew integrity.”

Dwyer will be allowed to return to work Feb. 19.

Atlanta Fireman Daniel Dwyer Suspended
Daniel Dwyer reportedly broke protocol when he left his crew behind to save 95-year-old Sally Skrine from her burning home last year. (Photos: 11ALive / video screenshot)

On June 27, 2019, crews responded to a fire on Collier Drive in west Atlanta. They arrived to find Skrine’s home engulfed in flames. Fire officials noted “burglar bars” surrounding the residence, making it that much tougher to get to the elderly woman trapped inside.

But Dwyer managed to get in. Video of the incident shows him pulling her out the front door and onto the porch where he was met by other firefighters who helped carry Skrine down and away from the blaze.

She would later pass away from her injuries.

Atlanta Fire Chief Randall B. Slaughter addressed Dwyer’s suspension in a statement this week, saying the department’s disciplinary process “is designed to encourage safety and order.”

“It also seeks to establish clear expectations in both emergency and non-emergency situations,” said Slaughter, who signed off on the disciplinary action. “At this time it would be inappropriate to publicly discuss individual disciplinary cases that have not been totally resolved.”

Paul Gerdis, who heads the city’s fire union, disagrees, however, and said the suspension “sends the wrong message.” He lauded Dwyer for making a “split-second” decision to go in and rescue the victim.

“When the men and women in the station hear that the fire captain is gonna be punished for an act of valor, it just goes against everything in which a firefighter swears an oath to uphold,” he told 11ALive. 

The reprimand drew strong reactions online, with many agreeing that Dwyer should be celebrated and not punished.

“Unbelievable!” one Facebook user wrote. “Sound like charges need to be made in his department. Whoever is calling the shots needs to take the fall.”

“A woman’s life was in danger,” another chimed in. “Protocol is for show. God bless this man and please stop the suspension.”

One user praised Dwyer as a “hero” and argued he “deserves a medal for at least trying to save her [Skrine]” while another wrote that Dwyer is “the kind of fireman I would want to come to my house if it was on fire.”

“Give him a reward for his bravery!” they added.

According to local reports, Dwyer is currently appealing his punishment with the Civil Service Review Board.

Watch more in the video below.

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