NJ Fire Chief Demoted After Filing Suit

A New Jersey fire chief who sued his bosses earlier this year, has been demoted.  Plainfield Fire Chief Frank Tidwell filed suit claiming city officials were conspiring to force him into retirement. Last Friday, the city released a statement that he was being demoted because he “compromised the integrity of the Fire Division and by extension the City of Plainfield.”

Chief Tidwell’s lawsuit was filed in Union County Superior Court naming the City of Plainfield, Mayor Adrian Mapp, Public Safety Director Carl Riley, former Business Administrator Rick Smiley and Deputy Fire Chief Jeffrey Courtney. Chief Courtney recently settled a lawsuit with the city for $450,000 claiming he was being discriminated against on account of his race. Chief Courtney is white, Chief Tidwell is black.

According to MyCentraljersey.com, Chief Tidwell posted on facebook:

  • “Yesterday was my last day as chief.”
  • “I was demoted and suspended for 6 months.”
  • “#WhenTheyGoLow.”

Deputy Chief Michael McCue was named to serve as acting chief. 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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