Is Florida BC Dangerously Incompetent or the Victim of Discrimination

A Florida battalion chief who was terminated for, among other things, leaving a firefighting crew in the woods at the conclusion of a wildland fire, claims she is the victim of discrimination.

Estero Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Jeannine Horton was fired following an investigation report that cited nine separate instances of poor judgment. She had been with Estero for nine years, but has over 25 years of experience having served previously with the Largo Fire Department.

Chief Horton filed charges of discrimination in July 27, 2012 with the US EEOC, which according to her attorney, Benjamin Yormak, was the same day the department launched its investigation into her conduct. WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral

About Curt Varone

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.
  • Andrew

    First indication this is going to be a mess: the caption for the video is “Fire Chief’s Lawyer: Bosses is at fault.” Of course, that may be whoever posted the clip, but still… One boss IS at fault, multiple bosses ARE at fault. Have we all forgotten first grade English?

    IF the allegations are true, she deserves it. IF the allegations are NOT true, those who fired her need to be nailed, hard, fast, and in no uncertain terms.

    I hope there will be an honest investigation.

  • RJ(in florida)

    9 errors in 9 years (assuming there was one per year) is an indication that she might have been set up for failure because usually you get 3 strikes (sometimes 4) but she got 9 so that tells me something else is (or was) going on and there is a missing piece here

    she has 25 in the bag from Largo so this is payback of some sort because 9 years is just over vesting in state retirement so she aint hurting for cash, she’s got something to say or reveal

    still, forgetting about a crew in a brush fire? you only terminate command when its out and you’re going back home so something else is missing here. The department that got forgotten was not her’s and there’s the question of was she in commmunication with everyone because we all know that interoprobility is a problem today

    I’d watch this one Curt

  • ukfbbuff

    Since I’m not in Florida and only basing my opinion on what I’m reading and seeing in the news, I’d say, FD Managemnt has some internal “Accountability” issues of its own.

    If BC Horton had made so many mistakes, then why wasn’t action taken earlier to dismiss or demote her?

    Her promotion to BC wasn’t just some “Flash in the Pan”. They were hiring an experienced Fire Officer from the Largo FD.

    Then again, “Termination of the Wildfire Incident”. Was the affected crew under her
    “Command”? That is, was there a second adjoining incident, and that this crew was assigned to it?

    I know in California, that this happens at times, in order to order New Resources for
    the new fire.

    In any case, you have to ask why she was “Terminated” from employment without any mention of a “Due Process” hearing first?

    And is there a relationship to her EEOC Complaint?

    Time will tell.


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