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Baltimore County Firefighter Indicted in Arson after Polygraph

The firefighter allegedly said he set the fire to fit in at the firehouse.

Photo of the fire on Myrtle Avenue from 2007.
Photo of the fire on Myrtle Avenue from 2007.
A Baltimore County firefighter is facing federal charges that he set a blaze which he later helped fight, according to court documents.

While taking a polygraph test to apply for a Secret Service job in 2011, English Consul Volunteer Fire Association member Nicholas Hannigan, 27, "grew noticeably nervous" when asked about criminal activity such as arson and confessed to his role in a blaze in Halethorpe, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Now, the firefighter is trying to have a federal indictment against him thrown out, WBAL reported.

The fire in the 3900 block of Myrtle Avenue leveled a vacant home on Sept. 1, 2007, according to court documents.

"I was new to the firehouse, trying to fit in. I was told that I should have lit a fire by now to be like everyone else," Hannigan stated in a written confession after the polygraph test, explaining this was a rite of passage at the firehouse.

Before 2011 when the confession came out, the Assistant U.S. Attorney noted there was a "disturbingly common trend in this area" of "suspicious fires" that seemed to be connected to the English Consul Volunteer Fire Company, according to The Baltimore Sun.

According to a written confession from Hannigan, another firefighter selected a vacant property and they went through a window to get inside, where Hannigan allegedly lit a wheelbarrow containing insulation on fire.

A 73-year-old truck driver owned the house and was renovating it with the intention of renting it out to supplement his retirement income, but after the arson, he was forced back into full-time work, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Hannigan returned to the firehouse, where he joined other volunteers in traveling to the scene and fighting the blaze, landing him and another member in the hospital for heat and smoke-related conditions, according to court documents.

After telling the fire company that he was being indicted, Hannigan was placed on suspension, according to The Baltimore Sun. The conditions of his release prohibit contact with fire and rescue organizations, employment as a first responder (both volunteer/paid) and engaging with the public as a first responder.

According to WBAL, Hannigan was challenging the charges against him based on a violation of his constitutional rights. Court documents show Hannigan signed a waiver of his rights upon taking the polygraph test for the Secret Service, stating he is aware his statements may be used against him in court.

Now, Hannigan's lawyer is contesting whether there is federal jurisdiction for the case, claiming that since the property on Myrtle Avenue was vacant and therefore had not "entered the stream of commerce," the arson was not a federal offense.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled in the U.S. District Court of Maryland for 9:30 a.m. on April 29.
Roger April 17, 2014 at 02:35 PM
We need volunteer firebugs like we need volunteer police auxiliary. They are losers who can not be the professional first responders I want.
moecephus April 17, 2014 at 10:28 PM
Back in 61 there were volunteer fire fighters who set forest fires so they could find work fighting them. Sad but it was also an indictment on the ecomony in Northern California at the time.
Justin case April 21, 2014 at 11:47 AM
Loser with a capital L
Steven Spiegel April 21, 2014 at 09:20 PM
Shoot this gives me a Idea . I can supplement my income by knocking down brick buildings since I am a Mason Sub then I can drive by and leave a Business card . Then I can be just as big of a loser as this guy !!!!!!!

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