Politics and Discipline in North Las Vegas

The city manager of North Las Vagas has placed Fire Chief Al Gillespie on paid administrative leave, but the reasons for that leave are being hotly disputed.

The firefighters union, IAFF Local 1607 says it is because Chief Gillespie refuses to implement draconian cuts that will jeopardize firefighter and public safety. A recently laid-off deputy chief, Kevin Brame, agrees.

However, the city manager, Timothy Hacker, contends that the move was due an injury that occurred to a member during a training exercise in January.

For those who are not aware of who Al Gillespie is, he is the current President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). That honor is not bestowed upon just anyone. I have known Chief Gillespie for over 16 years – we went through all four years of EFO together – and we are friends,  so it is a little hard for me to be objective on this one.

The fact that the firefighters union is standing solidly behind the fire chief says a lot in this day and age. The fact that Chief Gillespie ordered the layoff of Chief Brame and Chief Brame came to his defense says a lot as well.

As for why a city manager would place a fire chief on paid administrative leave in July over an injury that occurred in January… well the act speaks for itself.


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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