An Idaho fire chief has resigned after a disagreement with the city’s mayor over the appropriate level of discipline for a firefighter accused of misconduct.
Mountain Home Fire Chief Alan Bermensolo resigned rather than sign a disciplinary letter to one of his firefighters as requested by Mayor Rich Sykes. The discipline stemmed from a vehicle accident on February 23, 2016 involving a FedEx tractor-trailer on Rt. I-84. The truck and its contents were destroyed by a post-accident fire.
Mayor Sykes received a report that responding firefighters took items from the crash scene. The incident was investigated by county prosecutors who concluded that there were no criminal acts, and that what occurred was more in the nature of “salvage.” It is unclear from news reports what exactly was reportedly “salvaged”.
Mayor Sykes wanted an involved firefighter to receive a formal write up and suspension, while Chief Bermensolo felt a verbal reprimand would be appropriate.
Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.