Firefighters ‘Take Issue’ with Statement on Chief

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(Cleveland Fire Chief Daryl McGinnis)

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CLEVELAND — The Association of Cleveland Firefighters said it took issue with how the city categorized the "culture within the Division of Fire."

This comes after Fire Chief Daryl McGinnis was relieved of his duties for not completing the required number of training hours.

A review found McGinnis only had 22 hours documented from 2009 to 2012 prior to completing EMT re-certification last year.  The state requires 40 hours.

“I am disappointed that Chief McGinnis failed to meet this minimum requirement and have relieved him of duty pending an internal review and disciplinary process,” Mayor Frank Jackson said in a statement Thursday. “But the real problem is that this is another example of a culture within the Division of Fire that betrays the public’s trust. The audit we are conducting as a result of this will look at every firefighter’s records to ensure that they are all in compliance.”

On Friday, the Association of Cleveland Firefighters said in response:

“Cleveland’s Fire Fighters take issue with the City’s statement that the Chief’s actions reflect the ‘culture within the Division of Fire’. The true culture of the Division of Fire is this: we are committed to serving our community and protecting life and property.  The men and women of the Cleveland Fire Department are in no way responsible for the Chief’s apparent failure to properly maintain his required certifications; just as we are not responsible for his recent statement he would ‘put a knife in Fire Fighters’ necks.’ The Chief, and the Chief alone, is accountable for his own conduct and actions.

Like the citizens of this great City, we are deeply troubled and concerned by the recent controversies surrounding Chief McGinnis. However, the Association of Cleveland Fire Fighters wants to reassure the public that your Fire Fighters will continue to provide the highest level of life-saving emergency services.”

Jackson ordered an internal audit of all certification records for all employees in the department.

The State of Ohio requires all firefighters to be certified as EMTs and participate in ongoing training to maintain certification.

The ordered audit includes not only EMT training, but mandatory firefighter training and Ohio driver’s license requirements.

Several internal audits have been conducted within the Division of Fire in recent years, including a closer look at shift trade practices of individual firefighters. Thirteen firefighters were indicted on felony charges as a result.

McGinnis was sworn in as chief in January.  Assistant Chief Patrick Kelly will serve as Acting Chief of Fire.

The mayor’s office says McGinnis will be assigned to a non-supervisory role conducting administrative duties while an internal review process is conducted.

(Fox 8's Jessica Dabrowski contributed to this report.)

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