Alcohol

Bartenders Belch Fire, Wind Up in Cuffs

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the 21st hijacker

Two Virginia bartenders face up to 45 years in prison for their Friday night firebreathing act. The men were hauled off in cuffs around midnight in late July without any warning from police or fire marshalls.

Jimmy's Old Town Tavern bartenders have performed the fire-breathing act for 13 years, at first doing the tricks on special occasions like birthdays or to honor a fallen fireman, police officer or soldier, [owner Jimmy] Cirrito said. By 1999, the fire-breathing bartenders had become a Friday midnight tradition, he said. The bar uses the fire-breathing bartenders on its advertisements…. Fairfax County fire investigators charged Tegee Rogers, 33, of Herndon, and Justin Fedorchak, 39, of Manassas, with manufacturing an explosive device, setting a fire capable of spreading, and burning or destroying a meeting house. They also were charged with several state fire code misdemeanors.

Both men have worked at the tavern nearly since it opened. They both recently became fathers and are very anxious about facing serious criminal charges…

These guys—reliable bartenders with a special skill that has been drawing Friday night customers to a local bar for more than ten years—could potentially wind up with rap sheets that imply they are Al Qaeda agents.

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  1. Wasn’t Manassas where they raided the pool hall a couple of years ago after the owner pissed off the cops? I wonder if the owners of this place failed to pay their protection money.

    1. My first thought as well, John. This has been going on for 13 years, and this is the first the fire inspectors heard about it? Bullshit.

      1. And an arrest. Not just telling them to stop it? Or writing them a ticket? Something else is going on here.

        1. That’s what I was thinking. “Hey, guys, I know you’ve been doing this a while, but we’re going to crack down on such things in the future. Sorry about that!”

    2. Yes, it was Manassas, but this bar isn’t in Manassas. (Manassas is in Prince William County, not Fairfax County.) Just one of the bartenders lives in Manassas.

      1. Okay.I still wonder what the hell is up. Why didn’t they just write them a ticket or tell them to stop?

        1. That’s what the local politicos asked. The response from the fire and rescue spokeswoman:

          “Warnings are not typically given in cases involving ‘life safety issues,’ ” Stilwell said. “This was an occupied dwelling where fire safety violations were observed firsthand by a fire marshal.”

          1. So is is actually worse than I thought. If they were crooks you could just pay them off. It appears that rather than being crooks, they are just assholes. And there is work around for that.

            1. Not sure. The attorney for the bar is saying that there were fire marshals AND Virginia ABC officials present, and suspects (along with other people quoted in the story) that it was a sting setup by someone, perhaps a “concerned citizen.”

              1. Other than juggalo, is there anything worse than a “concerned citizen”?

                1. Concerned Citizen
                  : one that competes: as a : rival b : one selling or buying goods or services in the same market as another c : an organism that lives in competition with another

                  Any goddam law enforcement agency with a lick of sense would have told the owner, “Knock it off. If you don’t then there will be trouble”.

                  The whole problem with my previous sentence is finding a law enforcement agency with a lick of sense.

                2. A fire marshal, a zoning inspector, a cop, a Federal employee.

                3. At least juggalos are live and let live.

          2. Warnings are not typically given in cases involving ‘life safety issues,’

            Begs the question. Why not?

            1. Follow the money.

            2. Especially begs the question of why not warn them when they advertised on their web page and locally that they did this. If it’s a life safety issue, why not warn them *before* they perform this “dangerous” act, instead of waiting to catch them in the act?

              Seems to me like the fire marshals are claiming that they wanted to put customer’s lives in danger, by their standards.

              1. But if we prevented the crime, we wouldn’t get to arrest anyone and threaten to ruin their lives.

                Jesus get your priorities right Thacker.

    3. Yep, the story was featured as a Balko nut punch.

      1. Here I am, late for the party, with no date, and looking quite the fool.

        Well you won’t have cap Nixon to kick around any more!

  2. Won’t somebody please think of the children?

  3. I’ve been to Jimmy’s and it’s a tinder house, but also it’s literally spitting distance to the firehouse. I can understand that maybe this isn’t the safest thing to do, but WTF.

    1. I’ve been to Jimmy’s and it’s a tinder house, but also it’s literally spitting distance to the firehouse.

      So god only knows how many times actual firefighters saw this, and didn’t think anything of it.

  4. Apparently the local politicians (both D and R) are actually sticking up for the bar and saying that the charges seem excessive.

    “The charges seem pretty over-the-top,” Wolf said. “I’m pretty sure there are many other local bars where shots are set on fire. Why was Jimmy’s singled out? And why these extreme charges when a simple warning seems much more appropriate?”

    “The charges do seem pretty harsh,” agreed Rust, who said he recently had a “lengthy and detailed” meeting with Cirrito at a fundraiser for the Herndon Arts Council sponsored by Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern. “Jimmy is a great corporate citizen and I’m glad to help. It seems that this bar trick has been going on for a long time with the knowledge of authorities and no warning has ever been issued.”

  5. with manufacturing an explosive device

    Your mouth is now a bomb?

    setting a fire capable of spreading

    What did they set fire to? The air? The alcohol? “capable of spreading”? Every camp fire, cigarette, cigar, stove, pipe is “capable of spreading.” That’s like charging you with a DUI for owning a car and a six-pack.

    burning or destroying a meeting house

    The air is a “meeting house?” The bar didn’t catch fire!

    Sweet fuck, cops are stupid.

    1. I had the exact same thought re: “capable of spreading.” Seems as redundant as “ice capable of melting.”

    2. The above is spot on.

      So, everytime some one flicks their bic, they’re “setting a fire capable of spreading” right?

      Let’s see…AH HA! THAT’s how to stomp out smoking. Charge ’em with a felony and lock ’em up for 5 years for EACH time they light up, because they flicked their bic, THEN spread the fire to the smoke.

      Well, isn’t every effing politicans mouth a bomb? They say stupid shit and there is destruction.

    3. Your mouth is now a bomb?

      That’s why their called “blow jobs.”

      1. “their?” Starting thinking dirty and my grammar goes all to hell.

        1. Blood moving from your brain to the south

    4. I think the Fire Mashall is considering the mouth a “container” for a fire bomb (which does raise the question of why people who don’t exceed the DUI BAL aren’t charged with violating open container laws by default.)

      Also according to the Fairfax Times ‘Crime Notes’ There was a fire that night that was discovered early, fire damage to the property is only estimated at $200.

      Which is why they could charge them with setting a fire capable of spreading

      As far as the other charge, I believe malitious intenent is needed so who the freak knows.

      1. But “capable of spreading” is all fire. You might be right on “burning or destroying a meeting place.”

        1. I’m not defending the charges at all just trying to figure out how they were arrived at. Especially considering the fact that with a strict interpretation of the “fire bomb” definition, anyone who makes their own candles holders, bar-b-que pits or rolls their own cigarettes could be changed with manufacturing a “fire bomb”., since the requirements are that it is a “container” holding a “flammable…chemical compund” that isn’t “commercially manufacture”

  6. Who cares about fire hazards?

    Were these men licensed members of the Fire Eaters’ Guild?

  7. These guys have been advertising with pictures of the bartenders in action for several years.

    Isn’t there some reasonable protection against prosecution for these guys if that’s the case? The fire marshall had to know it was going on or he hadn’t been doing his job for quite some time.

    Also, what was said during fire safety inspections regarding the practice? Will the fire marshall open his books and show where they were warned for potential violations based on the word of firemen who frequent the place (due to it’s proximity to a fire station)? Will the health inspector go over his findings and show where they were warned for potential dangers?

    These guys went so far as to install fire-retardant tiles in the bar so the risk of fire was negated. This has witch hunt written all over it and someone in the public sector is gonna lose their job over it…..or they’ll get put on paid administrative leave for 6 months and someone will have to take their place temporarily, costing the taxpaqyers even more money.

    1. I’m impressed by your mastery of HTML, but that’s pretty damn unreadable without highlighting it.

      1. But remember, only two links per post.

        1. Good lord! Make it stop!

      2. I think that there’s some profound flaws in your logic. Not everyone commits that fallacy. In my case, I’m discounting your arguments because of the poor colors.

        1. I suspect these toys will be taken away from us shortly.

          1. It should be easy enough to strip out attributes from <strong> tags and the like, but they’ll have to probably think a bit about <a>. In any case, the way the site works they probably just strip all tags they want to disallow on the backend after pre-filtering certain evil CSS attributes (height, width) with JavaScript.

            1. How are you getting the embedded images to work? I’ve tried to replicate using the code you’ve used, but I get nothing.

            2. (Also, I’m wrong and it’s all done on the backend.)

          2. I think I did that a few times at Urkobold. Easy enough to do with a danged black background. We only keep it to upset Episiarch.

    2. Fuck your text of color, asscunt. It’s just so much eye vomit.

  8. Jebus friggin christ. What a fucking country. I have a question – does this sort of thing and so many similar stories that involve abuse of authority by local officials put the lie to the notion that merely decentralizing authority in any way protects liberty?

    1. Of course not. It’s a relative thing, not an absolute.

    2. Decentralizing authority does not protect liberty, but it increases your voting power exponentially.

      1. It also makes it easier to leave.

  9. To paraphrase Reason’s favorite SCOTUS justice, breathing fire in a crowded tavern is not protected by the first amendment.

    45 years is way too much punishment, but this is an extremely dangerous activity which potentially risks the lives of a lot of people (and their property) who do not voluntarily assume risk.

    1. Pretty sure that people do voluntarily assume risk since the bar widely advertised this practice. It was one of the bar’s drawing cards.

      1. If/when the their property is damaged or customers or hurt they can be held liable. Until then there is no harm being done.

        1. Dangit! The text size and color I can do, but the inline embedding of images defeats me!

          1. When you view source it adds in a bunch of extra carriage returns that have to be removed. Also you have to mess with the dimensions of the picture if you want something bigger.

    2. Was the door to the establishment functional? Was their chains? Spikes? Tiger traps? Barbed wire? Was their anything preventing the patrons from exiting the premises?

    3. Something that has been done regularly for 13 years without serious incident or injury to anyone can hardly be called “extremely dangerous”. And why the fuck is manufacturing an explosive device a crime? There are plenty of legitimate and fun uses of explosive devices.

  10. There was a bar in Indianapolis which featured an annoying “magician” who wandered around doing lame tricks; he used flash paper, sometimes. If I had only known I could get him locked up as a terrorist…

  11. “I am shocked, shocked to hear there is fire-breathing going on here!”

      1. Seriously, though, it’s astonishing how similar the situation is to the movie. Except Rick Blaine wasn’t faced with 45 years in jail, so I think that means the police/firefighters are worse then the Nazis.

  12. this is an extremely dangerous activity which potentially risks the lives of a lot of people (and their property) who do not voluntarily assume risk.

    Gosh, Professor Huffandpuff; couldn’t those people just, ummm, LEAVE if they felt they were in peril?

    1. Public accommodation.

    2. It would be strange if the bartender had been shooting bullets in random directions for the last 13 years and never hurt anybody.

    3. D’oh! Shut up, Flanders!

  13. EVERYTHING NOT MANDATORY IS PROHIBITED

  14. Huh. What’s next? Cracking down on the scourge of “fart lighting” among the nation’s youth?

    1. Well if it can save just one rectum…

    2. If it means prison time, then yes. Remember, it’s for their own good.

  15. So if a bartender starts shooting bullets in random directions inside the bar, can he just say the patrons were free to leave at any time so it should be legal?

    Since that is *exactly* the same circum stance, I can only answer YES!!!!!!

  16. Snowballs can put out a fire…

  17. It’s obvious captain html is just tweeking us. To insinuate that this bar has to accomodate everyone is bullshit.

    Reasonable accomodation ends when you step across the threshold (unless we are talking about an ada accomodation, which is different.

    By your argument, every restaurant would have to cook every patron whatever they wanted whether it was on the menu or not.

    1. I’m a patron of a couple of places with open kitchens like that. It’s great.

      1. “I would like a single plum floating in perfume, served in a man’s hat.”

  18. Will they arrest the fire-breathers the next time the circus comes to town? Or the renaissance fair(e)?

    If not, I believe there is a case for selective prosecution. I see $$$ in these bartenders’ future. Or perhaps just a reality show.

    I can see it now: “Bartenders of Fairfax County.” Tonight, Jimmy serves a drunk…wile Timmy breathes Firrrrrrrrre.

    1. That is a good point. If breathing fire is “manufacturing an explosive device” then all fire breathers are serious felons.

    2. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    3. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    4. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    5. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    6. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    7. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    8. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    9. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    10. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    11. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    12. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    13. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    14. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    15. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    16. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    17. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    18. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    19. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    20. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    21. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    22. Nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent dobule-Posting

    23. I really believe that nothing screams “I’m a flaming, cocksucking tool” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent double-Posting

    24. In my humble opinion, nothing screams “I’m a witless twit” like inline linked images that are irrelevant to the point and are not properly sized.

      Of course, nothing screams “I can’t code for shit” like a comment section that can’t handle badly formatted HTML and can’t prevent double-Posting

      What gaywad would put that shit on a comment board?

    25. Keep up this juvenile HTML shit and I’ll spam the fuck out of this place with goatse guy, tub girl and two-girls, one cup. They’ll lock this shit down tighter than a drum pretty quick. Nobody comes for their morning Reason with a dose of scat fetish.

      1. Looks like the mere threat got someone with delete rights to the comments table moving. …

  19. yes, this is all well and good, but what about that ground zero mosque?

  20. …and burning or destroying a meeting house.

    Why am I under the impression this particular law has been fermenting on the shelf for about a hundred years?

  21. Hopefully your encounters with me have made you into better people.

    Now, THAT’s funny.

  22. I don’t think this story is as simple as it’s presented. As Fire Tiger noted above: it appears the bartenders did actually set the place on fire http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/cms/story.php?id=1902 . If the Fair Fax Times is reporting this accurately then these guys were not arrested for nothing, and the fire marshal didn’t just show up to arrest them. Rather they started a fire and now they are in trouble for it. With that said, 45 years is way over the top. A weekend in jail and a fine would do the trick I think.

    1. Yeah, somehow I doubt that “These guys…could potentially wind up with rap sheets that imply they are Al Qaeda agents.” Hyperbole is the language of Balko, but come on.

    2. “Fairfax County fire investigators charged Tegee Rogers, 33, of Herndon and Justin Fedorchak, 39, of Manassas each with three felonies; manufacturing and using and explosive device; setting a fire capable of spreading and burning or destroying a meeting house. They also were charged with several statewide fire prevention code misdemeanors.”

      Sounds like the law and chargers are after effect of The Station nightclub fire where 96 were killed.

  23. I don’t care what they say about you. You’re alright. If occasionally a bit of a party-pooper and old fart.

  24. Let’s look at that number again. Fire damage estimated at $200. A commercial building… damaged to the tune of $200. That’s not even enough to cover a table. Probably not even a chair. That’s a lampshade, or a couple of posters on the wall. Either someone can’t estimate, or they are really trumping up “started a fire that was caught early” from something that was much less than even that lame story.

  25. You fuckers are really pathetic. Most of us got over our HTML fascination in 1996. Grow the fuck up and move on.

    God, I hope we don’t have to go through the whole learning curve here. You guys are still about 2 years (HTML history-wise) from the whole goat-sex thing. Fuck if that didn’t get old quick.

  26. Does anyone know if there is a statute of limitations on these kinds of laws? Could I be looking at hard time for the 19 flaming shot of tequila I did on my 21st birthday? Granted it was 20 years ago… OK more than 20 but there were pictures and my township is dead broke.

    1. In Virginia, there are no statutes of limitations on felonies. So yes, you could be looking at time, assuming you have a dickwad for a Commonwealth’s attorney.

  27. Katherine,
    Your lack of understand and research in the matter is obvious. You can’t even spell fire marshal!

  28. So what ended up happening to these guys? Did the team get a good criminal defense? I agree with what was said above, that it’s probably not as simple as the article presents. But still. 45 years in prison? That’s going a little far for stupidly practicing a hobby in public.

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