(10/16/13) - A long-serving Mid-Michigan fire chief has been fired.
Gary Wade's dismissal happened Tuesday night at a special board meeting in Richland Township near Hemlock, west of Saginaw.
The township supervisor says the termination was due to a poor job evaluation, but the former fire chief's attorney believes there is more to the story.
"The board made a decision to dismiss the fire chief," said Brian Frederick, Richland Township supervisor.
Wade had been chief of the volunteer, on-call Richland Township Fire Department for 26 years, before that tenure came to an abrupt end at a special township board meeting. The vote was four to one in favor of letting Wade go.
Frederick cast one of those four votes.
"From what I can see, from it, most of the board members were upset with communication between him and the board," he said.
Frederick says Wade was given a job evaluation in March. The response time to a house fire in January 2012 was discussed, after a neighboring township fire department beat Richland Township units to the scene. The home was destroyed.
"We addressed it in March, and you know, we addressed and said we have to look for improvements," Frederick said.
Frederick says the response time to the fire was not brought up in a second evaluation, where Wade earned a score of 2.57 out of a possible 5, with three being satisfactory. He says the board, which has been in place since November, has received complaints from residents.
"Just that he was hard to work with, and the communication part of it," Frederick said.
Wade's attorney is Victor Mastromarco, who believes there are other reasons for the dismissal, including one he says came up at the township meeting where his client was fired.
"They cooked up some bogus reason and then got rid of them," he said. "Statements that were made at the meeting where they indicated that the reason they were taking the action was as a result of him not supporting certain people in the election."
The township's assistant fire chief, Larry Wegner, resigned at Tuesday night's meeting after Wade was fired.
The fire chief's position pays about $4,800 a year.
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