Flagler Beach Sued For Retaliatory Discharge

The ongoing problems in the Flagler Beach (FL) Fire Department continue with word now that two previously fired volunteer firefighters are suing the city for retaliatory discharge and privacy violations.

Shane Wood and Jacob Bissonnette were fired by City Manager Bruce Campbell last February allegedly for possessing alcohol in a fire station on Christmas Day while off duty.

However, Wood and Bissonnette claim that they are the victims of retaliation for doing the right thing. Their complaint alleges that they were asked by “Flagler County Probation Department to investigate allegations of a probationer filing false community service hour reports” by another firefighter. They cooperated with the investigation which revealed that “Firefighter Robert Pace falsified community service records for a convicted felon.” This information was turned over to Fire Chief Martin Roberts and Flagler County Probation.

Pace responded by accusing Wood and Bissonnette of the alcohol possession on Christmas. He also accused then Chief Roberts of drinking alcohol at the department Christmas party and then driving fire apparatus on a run. The Chief, Wood and Bissonnette were then terminated by Campbell.

Pace was then promoted to fire chief, but was later charged criminally following an investigation into the matter, and placed on administrative leave. The latest saga occurred last week when the third chief in six months stepped down citing all the negative publicity. Quite a mess is Flagler Beach, which incidentally remains without a fire chief.

The complaint alleges two counts, retaliatory discharge under Section 112.3187 of Florida Statutes, and unlawful release of confidential personal information under Section 119.071 of Florida Statutes.

Here is a copy of the complaint. Wood v Flagler Beach

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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