Fired Maine Chief Sues Seeking Reinstatement

A fire chief who was terminated after bringing complaints about the town manager to a town selectman has filed suit challenging his dismissal.

Former Ogunquit fire chief Mark O’Brien filed suit in York County Superior Court challenging his termination by Town Manager Patricia Finnigan. The suit comes amidst a grass-roots efforts amongst local residents to recall the town selectmen who supported Finnigan’s decision to terminated Chief O’Brien.

Finnigan claims she fired Chief O’Brien out of concerns for his management style together with his interactions with his staff. She insists her decision had nothing to do with the fact Chief O’Brien had made multiple reports of violations of law or dangerous practices that she failed to act upon.

The town’s board of selectmen upheld Finnigan’s decision to terminate Chief O’Brien in October on a 3-2 vote. The three selectmen who supported the firing are the ones facing the possibility of a recall.

A decision on the recall election will likely be made next week as recall signatures are tallied. 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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