Ohio Chief Accepts 90-Day Suspension

An Ohio fire chief has agreed to accept a 90-day suspension rather than face a disciplinary proceeding that could potentially have cost him position.

Braceville Township Fire Chief Todd Garland was facing six charges related to an incident that occurred in June, 2016 while personnel were attending to a combative patient. During the course of the incident, while firefighters were trying to restrain the patient a firefighter reportedly struck him. Chief Garland was present when the incident occurred.

When reporting about the incident, Chief Garland admitted that the firefighter used force to subdue the patient, but did not say the firefighter struck the patient. The incident was captured on a police officer’s body cam, and a lengthy investigation ensued. The Township Trustees accused Chief Garland of “materially misleading and misrepresent[ing] the actual events” and failing to discipline the firefighter involved.

The township and the chief were able to negotiate an agreement whereby five of the six charges would be dropped, and Chief Garland would not contest a finding that he failed to fully inform the Trustees of what took place.

Chief Garland, who was represented by my very good friend, Attorney Chip Comstock, will be returning to duty of August 1. He was originally suspended with pay on May 1, and will now face an unpaid suspension. Chip was quoted by the Tribune Chronicle as saying Chief Garland “recognizes that the trustees have a job to do running the department. He wants to work with trustees to resolve any issues out there. Everyone wants to move things forward in providing the EMS and fire services this community deserves,”

According to the Township attorney, Alfred Schrader: ”Braceville trustees and Garland have determined that resolving this matter is in the best interest of the parties and Braceville Fire Department.”

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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