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WFD battalion chief resigns after suspicion of alcohol at train derailment

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A Wilmington Fire Department battalion chief has resigned after he was given a breathalyzer test after showing up to the scene of a train derailment Friday.

WFD has suspended Jimmy Casteen without pay after the incident and began an internal investigation. The city says Casteen resigned Friday before that investigation was complete.

Casteen joined the fire department July 23, 1987.

"It is unfortunate that the events surrounding Battalion Chief Casteen, while handled swiftly and in strict accordance with city policy, has taken the focus off of what was a very professionally managed emergency," Wilmington Fire Chief Buddy Martinette said in a statement. "That said, the confidence the public places in our personnel to respond and mitigate these types of incidents can never be compromised. While this was a regrettable situation, I am very proud of how our personnel handled both aspects of this incident."

According to a news release, Casteen arrived for his shift at WFD headquarters at 7 a.m., then rode to the scene of the derailment with other firefighters, where he took over as incident commander at about 7:15 a.m.

WFD says that when Deputy Chief Steve Mason arrived at the scene of the derailment in the Love Grove community around 9:30 a.m., he was told Casteen was under what city policy calls "a reasonable suspicion of alcohol." Following city policy, Mason immediately took Casteen for a breathalyzer test.

The city says it cannot release the results of the rest, because they are considered medical records. The city did say, though, that there is no criminal investigation underway and no charges have been filed.

Wilmington Police arrested Casteen for DWI in December. He's due back in court later this month on that charge.

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