LINWOOD - A 21-year old Davidson County man was arrested for impersonating a firefighter on 9/11.
The Davidson County Sheriff's Office said Cody Lee Herring of Linwood was present at an emergency medical call on Old Salisbury Road and Twelve Oaks Drive in Linwood. Herring carried a walkie talkie and had flashing lights on his truck. Deputies said Herring told crews there he was a West Lexington firefighter and is pictured in his mugshot wearing the department's t-shirt.
Sheriff David Grice said Herring is a former volunteer firefighter and hadn't been part of the department for over a year. Firefighters and EMS officials told Herring to leave and called 911. Grice said he's investigating how Herring learned of the call. Officials on the scene knew who Herring was and knew he was in fact, no longer a firefighter.
According to Captain David Connie with the West Lexington Fire Department, Herring was not with the department for very long.
Connie said over the phone, "Cody was supposed to turn in his shirts (for the department) but if you knew Cody, you knew he didn't like to always follow the rules," said Connie. “We carry much pride at the West Lexington Fire Department and if Cody is indeed guilty, then this is a disgrace to us."
Deputy Director Edward Brinson with the State Firefighters' Association agreed.
“It’s deplorable and it gives all fire, police and EMS personnel and agencies a terrible reputation.”
Brinson said impersonating fire, EMS and police officers happens occasionally across the nation, as a sort of way to have a sense of "the brotherhood."
“You hear about the blue light bandits trying to stop people on the roadway," said Brinson. “Evidently, the young man had not reached the maturity level enough to be a member of a legitimate firefighter. Maybe at some point in time he can turn himself around and become a bonafide firefighter.”
According to Connie, Herring was let go from his position for "conduct unbecoming a firefighter."
A look at Herring's background shows convictions for assault on a female, larceny and possession of stolen goods. The public record inquiry shows Herring was on probation as of February of 2016 for a 12 month term.
The West Lexington Fire Department declined an on camera interview and said they couldn't comment on whether or not his background was part of the reason he was let go from his short term position. Common requirements for a volunteer firefighter in North Carolina include having a high school diploma or GED, a NC's driver's license, pass a physical, be at leasts 18 years old and live within the fire department's district.
According to state law, impersonating a firefighter or medical personnel is a misdemeanor. Herring has a Oct. 24 court date for impersonating a firefighter and carries a $5,000 bond.
Even though Herring is accused of trying to respond to an emergency medical call, not an actual fire, Brinson explained impersonation is discouraged, no matter the reason.
“Nationally there’s 120 firefighters killed in the line of duty every year and several thousand injured every year and that’s people with advanced training," said Brinson. “Someone who has no training is a recipe for disaster for getting injured, killed or injuring or getting a firefighter killed in the line of duty.”
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