Documents reveal Pigeon Forge Fire Chief drank alcohol, drove city car to scene before suspension

A Notice of Disciplinary Action shows what lead to the suspension of Pigeon Forge Fire Chief Tony Watson.
Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 4:25 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Chief Tony Watson of the Pigeon Forge Fire Department was suspended for drinking an alcoholic beverage before responding to a fire on July 5. New documents obtained by WVLT News reveal more details in the case that lead to a three day unpaid suspension.

Chief Watson responded to a fire call where he was told that he could leave, according to a Notice of Disciplinary Action from the City of Pigeon Forge. He decided to stay and spoke with some of the officials on scene where they noticed the smell of alcohol and a different behavior from Watson and reported it to the Deputy Fire Chief, according to Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster.

“The deputy Fire Chief made you aware that he had the call handled and if you wanted to leave, it would be fine,” the document states. “You decided to stay a little while and spoke to several employees while there.”

Watson admitting to drinking before responding to the call as well as driving a city vehicle, according to Easter.

Chief Watson suspended by WVLT News on Scribd

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The City of Pigeon Forge has a drug and alcohol policy that states firefighters cannot “consume alcohol within five hours before reporting for duty as well as while on standby, on-call, on duty, or while in or on City property”, according to the notice. It also forbids “reporting to work under the influence of, or to be impaired in any by by alcohol.”

Teaster stated that it is a privilege that Watson is in the position to have access to a city vehicle at all times in order to respond to city business.

Watson made a statement about the incident, saying he disappointed his fellow firefighters.

“It is with great remorse and regret that I have disappointed my fellow firefighters, Pigeon Forge’s city management, our community, my friends and most especially, my family,” Watson said. “I take full responsibility for the consumption of an alcoholic beverage on July 5 and subsequently responding to a fire scene later that night. Moving forward, this will not happen again as I work to rebuild the trust that I jeopardized with this lapse in judgement.”

Watson returned to work on July 14 but is suspended from any business travel until August 31.

If Watson violates the drug and alcohol policy again, he may face additional disciplinary actions that may include being fired.

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