Great Falls

Jan 17, 2013 6:17 PM by KRTV

Great Falls Fire Marshal Bennyhoff announces retirement

Doug Bennyhoff, who has served as the Great Falls Fire Marshall, submitted his notice of retirement to city officials on Thursday.

A press release from the Deputy City Manager notes that Bennyhoff has more than 26 years of service with the City of Great Falls Fire Rescue, and that his retirement is effective immediately.

Bennyhoff started his career with Great Falls Fire Rescue in 1986, and was promoted to Fire Marshal five years ago.

On Monday, January 14th, Bennyhoff was charged with one count of negligent endangerment and five counts of obstructing a peace officer in connection with the death of Orville Jones in September.

Bennyhoff was placed on administrative leave on September 27th; the City Manager's office reports that Bennyhoff continued to receive his regular salary during his absence, totaling more than $23,000 since that time.

We're told the future of Yancy, the state's only arson dog who arrived in Great Falls in May, is unclear. Bennyhoff spent a month in Maine training with Yancy, and the dog is not trained to work with anyone else at this point.

Court documents state that Bennyhoff's story to dispatchers, medical responders, and investigators did not correspond with what other witnesses were saying.

According to witness statements, Bennyhoff was attempting to help Jones, who was intoxicated, get across the street to his apartment by pushing him in a Barrel O' Bucks casino chair that had wheels on the legs.

The witnesses say that Jones, who appeared to be passed out, was ejected from the chair and landed on his head.

Court documents state that Bennyhoff and two other people then carried Jones to his apartment.

The other men told investigators that they urged Bennyhoff to call 911 after noticing significant swelling on Jones' head.

During the call, Bennyhoff told the 911 dispatcher that Jones had fallen while walking across the street, and when asked if crews needed to respond "emergent" or if officers were needed.. Bennyhoff replied, "No."

When Great Falls Fire Rescue and Great Falls Emergency Services arrived on scene, Bennyhoff reportedly made no mention of the chair and continued to say that Jones had fallen.

At one point, Bennyhoff changed his story when talking to a fellow firefighter, indicating that Jones' injuries came from falling while in the casino.

Emergency responders at the scene told investigators that knowing exactly how an injury occurred is important to determining treatment.

They also stated the protocol for dealing with this type of injury is to immobilize the patient and call 911 immediately, and that, as Fire Marshal, Bennyhoff is aware of the proper protocol.

Jones died from the injuries on September 21st, six days after the incident.

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