Fire Battalion Chief Arrested, City Leaders Frustrated
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — City leaders are outraged by the actions of a fire department battalion chief.
Pittsburgh Fire Battalion Chief James Washabaugh has been arrested three times now – in West Virginia, Florida and Pennsylvania – each time for assault and threats on his longtime girlfriend.
“Absolutely he’s dangerous,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Michael Huss said. “He gets to the point where I understand it becomes very physical and it’s not the first time. And like I said, he’s had this problem in three different states.”
Washabaugh was arrested at Washington Plaza Apartments over the weekend. Police reports indicate he spit on his girlfriend and threw her to the floor.
He was arrested at the same place in 2008, accused of punching his girlfriend and threatening to kill her. A man who does not wish to be identified says she was hospitalized twice from the beatings.
“I know of at least two incidents – one in West Virginia and one in Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh,” the man told KDKA-TV by phone. “Yep, beat her in West Virginia. I had to go down and pick her up in the hospital in West Virginia.”
“Oh, bruises all over the body, blood,” the man continued.
Washabaugh, a veteran of more than 25 years on the fire department, works out of the East Liberty fire house. He was put on administrative leave in 2008. He’s on unpaid leave now.
City leaders cannot fire Washabaugh. He has the legal right to what’s called a “trial board.” All of the members are firefighters.
“We’re frustrated,” Huss said. “We can’t fire him. Under state law he’s entitled to a trial board made up of three of his peers that have to make that decision. It’s about time they weight this. They cut him breaks in the past. They need to take a look at this, step up to the plate and get rid of this guy.”