Maine Chief Terminated Over Amputations

A long-serving Maine fire chief is contemplating filing suit over his recent termination that was attributed to his legs being amputated.

Skowhegan Fire Chief Tom Keene, was terminated on December 30, 2013 by Town Manager John Doucette Jr. Doucette admitted he terminated Chief Keene for medical reasons telling the Morning Sentinel “He’s not capable under the job description in state statute to perform as a fire chief.”

Over the past two years, both of Chief Keene’s legs were amputated due to diabetes. He is expected to be fitted with prosthetic limbs in a few months and informed Doucette on December 12, 2013 that he was ready to resume administrative duties.

According to Doucette “It’s very hard, but as a town manager, I have to look at the Fire Department, the safety of the town — are we putting more of a burden on other employees there not having the fire chief capable of doing those things?”

Chief Keene has been off on medical leave since September, 2013.  He told the Morning Sentinel that Doucette offered him the opportunity to resign, which he declined. Doucette then fired him. Chief Keene, 58, had been a firefighter for over 40 years and served as chief for the past 21 years.

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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