Franklin councilman draws fire for Facebook post

Fanale bashes borough police officer for animal-saving actions at Feb. 25 fire

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  • This cell phone screenshot obtained by The Advertiser-News South shows a post on the Facebook timeline of Franklin Councilman David Fanale, who is commenting on the actions of Patrolman Rafael Burgos, who entered Franklin's Pet Center during a Feb. 25 to save the pets in the store, suffering a smoke-inhalation injury in the process.

FRANKLIN — Franklin Councilman David Fanale came under fire at Tuesday night's Borough Council meeting for criticizing Patrolman Rafael Burgos, who was injured while on duty at a structure fire at Franklin's Pet Center on Feb. 25, on his Facebook page.

“A police officer who decides to enter a hazardous situation without proper training, without proper equipment, where no human life is at risk, isn’t a hero, he’s a fool,” Fanale wrote.

Burgos has been called a hero by many Franklin residents and council people in recent weeks when he made a decision to enter the building to save the caged pets and suffering a smoke inhalation injury in the process.

“He deliberately placed himself in a dangerous scenario, unnecessarily placed his well-being at risk, and is NOT deserving of ‘hero’ status, but rather, disciplinary action,” Fanale’s post continued.

Several members of the public used their portion of Tuesday night’s meeting to voice their displeasure with Fanale’s comments.

Donna Arrigo said she is “appalled and sickened” by Fanale’s remarks. While she said she has always implicitly trusted the mayor and council, she does not trust Fanale — the newest addition to the governing body.

“If he were in any other workplace, he’d be fired,” she said, before asking Fanale to step down from his office, drawing red-faced laughter from Fanale and fellow Councilman Fred Babcock.

Nicole Van Tassel Miller seconded Arrigo’s remarks, asking Mayor Paul Crowley to “review [Fanale’s] atrocious behavior and discipline accordingly.”

Fanale was given three minutes to address the situation, calling upon his background as a volunteer firefighter, paramedic, animal control officer and animal cruelty investigator for leverage.

“Don’t think I don’t like animals,” he said.

While it is difficult for personal feelings to be set aside, Fanale said his “primary concern is the safety and well-being of our officer.”

Burgos was “untrained, unprepared, and suffered an injury because of it,” Fanale said.

Councilman Nick Giordano disagreed.

“I think that Rafael Burgos is a hero,” he said, adding it is not the place for an elected public official to “vilify or damage the reputation” of a public employee.

While Giordano’s words drew a standing ovation from the near-capacity crowd, he was cut off by Babcock, a former volunteer fire chief.

“You better be careful,” he said, “because we’re going to be liable one day when we have to pull someone out.”

Fanale made similar statements on his Facebook wall.

If the situation didn’t go as favorably as it did, he wrote, “Officer Burgos’ wife could very likely have been selecting the most suitable black dress and veil for his funeral.”

He believed the intent was admirable, he said, “but it doesn’t dismiss any liability which the borough may face.”

A worker’s compensation claim was filed by Burgos several hours after the injury was sustained to allow him time to recuperate from his injuries — which also drew the ire of Fanale.

“A volunteer would have been treated and released from the Emergency Department and shown up back on the scene, ready to work again,” he wrote.

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