Supporters of Fairfield Township fire chief speak out at trustee - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Supporters of Fairfield Township fire chief speak out at trustees meeting

Fire Chief David Downie Fire Chief David Downie

Tempers flared in Fairfield Township Tuesday night as dozens of supporters of Fire Chief David Downie gathered to let township trustees know how they feel about him.

Downie has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into allegations that he verbally confronted another township supervisor.

It all stems from an incident on January 26 when slippery roads caused several emergency vehicles in the township to slide out of control, preventing firemen and paramedics from being able to do their job. During the emergency Downie is accused of verbally reprimanding the supervisor of the salt trucks claiming he wasn't doing his job. That led to township trustees deciding to suspend Chief Downie who has been the chief for 5 years in a full time capacity and another 20 years as a part time chief.

Supporters of his showed up by the dozens to a township meeting to voice their discontent. Prior to the meeting trustees, their attorneys, Downie and his attorney met and agreed to postpone any decision on the matter. Downie has been given the choice to retire or appeal and have a hearing.

By all indications from the crowd which was in attendance, Downie is being encouraged to fight the suspension.

"It's a personal vendetta," said Tara Downie, his wife. "They don't like him because he's not a puppet on a string. Dave's not a ‘yes' man and therefore they are going after him and trying to force him out."

Downie is also being accused of creating a hostile work environment by township officials. However, a petition has been signed by at least 40 of his firemen who want him to stay on as Chief.

What happens next is up to Downie as he will decide whether to retire or pursue an appeal and have a disciplinary hearing. If he opts to have the hearing the same township trustees who have suspended him will act as "judges" to determine if he can keep his job.

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