The State Worker

Records reveal another Cal Fire manager drank on the job

A line of Cal Fire airplanes sit on a runway.
A line of Cal Fire airplanes sit on a runway. Sacramento Bee 2004 file

A Cal Fire manager appealing his demotion for drinking on the job told investigators that he drank with other supervisors at work “on various occasions,” according to records released Monday.

Capt. Salvador Bruno contested his 14-month demotion to fire apparatus engineer, according to Cal Fire disciplinary documents he filed March 9. The Sacramento Bee obtained the papers through a Public Records Act request.

The case brings to six the number of managers at the department’s Ione academy who have appealed January terminations, demotions or suspensions for actions that allegedly included consuming alcohol while working.

Records reviewed by The Bee show that Bruno admitted to interviewers that “on various occasions” since 2012 he consumed alcohol “with other Fire Captains at local establishments during the week while on duty.”

The records also state Bruno confessed to drinking at academy graduation celebrations last year and that he allowed subordinates to do the same. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has a zero-tolerance policy for consuming alcohol while on duty or on standby.

Bruno also “admittedly became aware of misuse of a state vehicle,” the disciplinary records say, when a Cal Fire van was used to drive a group of drunken cadets from a local bar back to the academy. Bruno “did not take any appropriate action,” the documents state, “and/or report the conduct.”

Ione academy managers boozing on state time surfaced last year during a $2 million California Highway Patrol probe that revealed some also allegedly harassed and inappropriately touched women, stored and shared sexually explicit photos on state phones and, in one instance, used a work phone and a state vehicle to consort with prostitutes.

The CHP investigation began in May after former Ione academy instructor Orville Fleming was charged with murdering his girlfriend, 26-year-old Sarah June Douglas.

Fleming’s estranged wife alleged that she had seen a video of Douglas, a former escort, having sex with firefighters and her husband at the academy. Investigators found no credible evidence of a tape, but they did discover evidence of the other misbehavior, according to Cal Fire.

Of 16 employees ensnared in the probe, 15 were instructors at the Ione academy. One resigned and two were fired, including a firefighter who worked in the field. The department imposed a range of discipline on the rest, including suspensions and demotions.

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.

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