Breaking: Firefighter Busted for Weed

A 26-year veteran of the Boston Fire Department was booked on drug charges after cops busted him smoking pot in a BFD vehicle parked in front of a hydrant on a Dorchester street with two civilians inside the car. The city-owned vehicle was stocked with pot and the jake had percs in his pocket.

The firefighter, Tony “Machine Gun” Gaston, who earned just under $100,000 last year as a hazardous materials inspector for the BFD’s Fire Prevention Division, was wearing his dress uniform and driving a city car – even though he was off duty. Police approached the car at the hydrant at Dunlap and Washington Streets around 3 p.m. because it was filled with smoke, BPD officials said.

Dunlap was also spotted throwing something out the window as he rolled it down. Police believe the tiny cigarette-shaped item was a marijuana joint. In the front seat were two bags of marijuana and in the back seat was another bag containing marijuana and cash.

The painkillers were found in his pocket at the booking desk, two sources said.

“We believe he was wearing his uniform off-duty that so he would not attract attention to himself,” said one high-ranking city official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Boston Police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said Gaston was booked at District B-3 in Mattapan. He has been suspended with pay pending his arraignment, a Boston Fire Department spokesman said.

Gaston’s bust could not come at a worse time for the firefighters union, as it comes exactly one day after union members stormed out of contract negotiations with a state labor panel over a dispute regarding mandatory drug testing. Local 718 – which represents firefighters – said they want to be financially compensated in their contract before they will agree to drug testing.

The city has demanded drug testing since an August blast at a West Roxbury Chinese food restaurant killed two city jakes. An autopsy showed that fallen firefighter Warren Payne had cocaine and marijuana in his system and Paul Cahill, who also died in the blaze, was legally drunk as he fought the fire.

Gaston earned his nickname after he was arrested with an assault rifle decades ago, two sources in the BFD said. He was also arrested for a domestic violence incident in the city this year, the sources said. It remains unclear how he was hired as a city firefighter with a weapons charge on his record.

–Michele McPhee