Portsmouth chief: You can't go around impersonating a firefighter
PORTSMOUTH — A man who Portsmouth fire officials say reported a downtown blaze and then claimed to be a Manchester firefighter is facing charges for refusing to leave the roof of the burning building.
Fire Chief Steven Achilles said when firefighters attempted to rescue Dean Ellis, 29, by extending a ladder to the roof, Ellis would not get on the ladder and asked for a hose. He was not wearing protective clothing, an air mask or a helmet; firefighters took him for an occupant of the building, the chief said.
“He was in harm's way,” Achilles said Tuesday.
The chief said Ellis put firefighters at risk and became a distraction during the three-alarm fire that seriously damaged the F.A. Gray building on Daniel Street June 30.
Ellis, of 1145 Main St. in Rochester, pleaded innocent Monday to disorderly conduct for failing to obey firefighters and carrying a concealed and loaded pistol without a license to do so.
Achilles said firefighters were unfamiliar with Ellis and did not believe that he was a firefighter.
“He did not act like a reasonable off-duty firefighter,” Achilles said.
According to court records, the Manchester Fire Department reported that Ellis has never been a member of the department. He works for a company that supplies fire extinguishers, court records state.
“You can't go around impersonating a firefighter,” Achilles said, noting firefighters undergo extensive training to handle dangerous situations.
Achilles said investigators determined the fire began in a ceiling fixture — probably in an unoccupied second-floor apartment. The building has since been renovated and reoccupied.
Ellis was released on $1,200 personal recognizance. He is scheduled to return to court June 17.