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Fire captain cited for BWI

A captain with the Albemarle Fire Department was cited Sunday afternoon for boating while impaired. Because of the city’s personnel policies, however, he will not face any disciplinary action on the job.

N.C. Wildlife Commission officers cited Capt. Jake Furr on Lake Tillery when he was found to be intoxicated while operating a boat. Unlike other law enforcement agencies, N.C. Wildlife prohibits the release of blood-alcohol content, according to officer Josh Freeborn.

Officers stopped Furr after a child under the age 13 was observed not wearing a life jacket while on the boat. It was then Furr was suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, Freeborn said.

With the exception of police officers, the city of Albemarle allows employees an opportunity to overcome charges and convictions of driving while impaired including those who operate city-owned vehicles in the course of their job. Employees are given an opportunity to seek treatment after an initial incident, although they could be suspended.

A second incident, however, results in termination, according to Robert Whitley, human resources director for the city.

Albemarle adheres to a policy crafted by the Centralina Council of Governments akin with “two strikes and you’re out,” he added.

Albemarle police, however, are held to a higher standard.

“Police officers are terminated immediately because they have to enforce these laws (DWI),” Whitley said.

Firefighters, despite their mission of public safety, fall in line with other city employees.

And because city employees do not operate boats in the course of their work, a charge and/or conviction of boating while impaired has no impact on their employment status or results in any disciplinary action.

“We don’t have people here that operate boats on the job,” Whitley said. “It’s not something we can address. I don’t know what we can do about that.”

Furr was hired on Oct. 18, 1999. He was promoted to captain on May 2, 2010. He earns an annual salary of $52,060, according to human resources.

Contact Ritchie Starnes at 704-754-5076 or ritchie.starnes@stanlynewspress.com.