By Guy Page
When a Burlington man who was overdosing stole the ambulance sent to rescue him Sunday, November 5, a Burlington firefighters’ representative called the incident “definitely a new low for Burlington.” A week later, early this morning, brazen disrespect for the city’s public safety professionals may have sunk even lower: someone tried to set the Police Department on fire.
The two events are not known to be related – except that in both cases no-one was injured while making the city’s lifesavers’ jobs harder than ever.
According to a Burlington Fire Dept. statement, on November 13 at 2:02 AM, the Burlington Fire Department was dispatched for an alarm activation at the Burlington Police Department, located at 1 North Avenue. While fire department units were responding, they were advised of a smoke condition in the lobby and notified that the Emergency Communications Center (ECC), located within the Burlington Police Department building, was being evacuated.
Crews arrived to find a small fire had been set in the lobby, resulting in the activation of sprinkler and a smoke condition within the building. The fire was extinguished prior to the arrival of the fire department by the activation of a single sprinkler head. Crews conducted searches of the immediate area and were able to confirm that the fire had not spread beyond the initial area of origin.
As a result of the fire and subsequent sprinkler activation, significant water and smoke damage was sustained to the building and the ECC was temporarily evacuated. Existing emergency plans were implemented ensuring dispatch services remained in place throughout this disruption. The ECC located at 1 North Avenue has since been reoccupied.
Members of the Burlington Fire Department Fire Marshal’s Office were on scene to assist with the ongoing investigation. Anyone with information regarding this intentionally set fire are asked to contact the Burlington Fire Marshal’s Office at 864-5577 or the Burlington Police Department at 658-2704.
The Burlington Firefighters Association released this statement: “Last Sunday night (Nov. 5) while on scene at a suspected overdose, the ambulance was stolen by the individual who was reported to have overdosed. The ambulance was located down the road, abandoned and crashed into a parked car. Witnesses report the individual exited the ambulance while it was still in drive. Luckily it was a low speed crash with minor damage and no one was injured. This is definitely a new low for Burlington. It also appears that this individual was cited and released on the condition that they show up for court the next day.”
Mitchell Bissonette was cited for grand larceny, operating without owner’s consent, and negligent operation of a vehicle.