BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A Brevard County firefighter is accused of setting a fire at his home in order to defraud his insurance company, according to authorities.
According to Brevard County, Don Slayman is a fire department lieutenant who has been employed with the county since 2005. He has been placed on paid leave.
Authorities said the investigation began after Slayman’s home caught on fire on Sept. 3, 2019 as Hurricane Dorian was approaching the area.
Slayman’s neighbor initially called 911 to report the flames from the home’s garage and second story then Slayman also called and said he was still in the home but he was fine and he was just looking for his keys and his cat, according to the report.
Records show Slayman initially told investigators that he was cut from work at about noon that day so he went to have some drinks with friends, then returned home and rode his golf cart to the community clubhouse, where he continued drinking.
After he returned home again, Slayman plugged in his golf cart in the garage next to some containers of gasoline that he had stored for a family member and went inside to watch “Two and a Half Men,” authorities said.
He said he was watching the show when he noticed smoke then get an alert from an app on his phone notifying him that there was a 911 call in the area and the address matched his house, according to the report.
Firefighters on scene said Slayman was able to get out of the house on his own. They noted that he didn’t have any injuries or singe marks and he didn’t smell of smoke but he did smell of alcohol.
The next day, investigators said they determined the fire started in the garage near the golf cart and a generator and that it was incendiary in nature.
A neighbor who called 911 to report the flames said that he thought it was odd that Slayman’s truck was backed in rather than pulled forward like it usually was and that the family’s black car was in the driveway instead of parked inside the garage, especially with the hurricane coming.
Records show Slayman was interviewed again about the fire in January and this time he said that he went to add gasoline to the generator as it was running near the golf cart when “there was a flash and fire went everywhere.”
He said he went to get his phone from upstairs and by the time he returned, the flames were too significant so he couldn’t get the fire extinguisher out of fear that he might get trapped, according to authorities.
Slayman reportedly admitted that the story he told in January was different than the one he told immediately after the fire.
By the time of the second interview, records show Slayman already had his wife file an insurance claim to cover the damage. Investigators said the insurance policy valued Slayman’s home at $437,000 plus $218,500 in personal property when the property appraiser’s office only valued the residence at $280,100.
The couple had also tried to sell the home in August 2016 but removed it from the market in March 2017 after it didn’t sell. Also in 2017, they bought a piece of property to build their dream home, according to the report.
Authorities said based on the discrepancies with the insurance and Slayman’s story, plus the fact the fire was not electrical in nature and Slayman didn’t have any injuries or signs of being near the flames when they broke out, they decided to issue a warrant for his arrest on Friday.
He’s facing charges of arson of a dwelling and burning to defraud.
County officials declined to comment on the investigation.