Utah Chief Dismissed for Refusing to Terminate His Deputy

A Utah fire chief who refused to terminate his deputy chief was himself dismissed by his boss.

South Weber Fire Chief Thomas Graydon was ordered by City Manager Tom Smith to terminate Deputy Chief Frank Patrick following an investigation into falsified payroll sheets. When he refused, both chiefs were terminated.

Ironically, Chief Graydon initiated the investigation into the payroll discrepancies and suspended Chief Patrick without pay. Upon completion of the investigation the chief concluded that Chief Patrick had submitted inaccurate records, but that the penalty did not warrant termination.

Smith told the Standard Examiner that “The fire chief conducted the investigation and did a very good job on it. However, his conclusion to keep [Chief Patrick] on was inconsistent” with the city’s policies. As a result Smith terminated Chief Patrick. He also reported Chief Graydon’s conduct to Mayor Tammy Long.

Mayor Long met with Chief Graydon on October 11, 2016 and again on Monday at which time she requested the Chief’s resignation. News reports are unclear whether Chief Graydon did in fact resign or whether he was dismissed. The Standard Examiner stated that he was “dismissed” by Mayor Long.

Smith reported that the discrepancies involved approximately 15 incidents and involved two other firefighters besides Chief Patrick. The city is still trying to ascertain how much money was actually involved before deciding whether to request a police investigation. Chief Graydon received a $200/month stipend so presumably Chief Patrick would have been entitled to somewhat less.

More on the story.

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.

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