Firefighters Suit Claims Creation of Public Safety Director Position is Illegal

Firefighters in Weirton, West Virginia have filed suit against the city claiming the creation of a new public safety director is illegal and retaliation for the fire chief’s public statements about a staffing shortage.

Fire Chief Jerry Shumate, who is subject to civil service protection, told the city council the fire department is understaffed. That advice was rejected by the council who voted not to accept a SAFER grant for five additional firefighters. They also enacted an ordinance to create the public safety director’s position to whom the fire chief would report.

The law suit alleges the public safety directors’ position is an illegal attempt to circumvent Chief Shumate’s civil service position. They are seeking to enjoin the city’s efforts.

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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