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Officials dismiss assistant fire chief



Published: Fri, May 25, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Warren's safety-service director said filing of an EEOC complaint had no role in the termination of an assistant fire chief.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A 20-year veteran of the fire department has been fired after city officials found him guilty of several administrative charges of gross misconduct of duty.

Terry Brannon, assistant fire chief, was terminated May 11, one day after a pre-disciplinary hearing was held in the office of Fred Harris, the city's safety-service director. Brannon did not attend the hearing, records state.

Brannon, who lives in Cortland, could not be reached to comment.

According to records in Brannon's personnel file, city officials found him guilty of failing to provide the city with a current signed medical release, failure to complete an independent medical examination and then failing to provide documents as to why, failing to accept nine certified letters from the city and failing to properly communicate with the safety-service director.

Fire Chief Jay Mulligan, who is on an indefinite medical leave, declined to comment on Brannon's termination. Mulligan did say, however, that Brannon is "a very competent fire commander and has done a good job on his cases."

Union is appealing: Jeff Younkins, president of the local chapter of the International Association of Firefighters, said the union is appealing Brannon's firing.

"He was injured on the job in 1999," Younkins said. "I think it's very coincidental that he is fired shortly after the city is notified that he filed a complaint against them with the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]."

Younkins said he thinks Brannon filed the complaint because he believes the city discriminates against injured employees.

EEOC officials could not be reached to comment.

Harris confirmed that Brannon did file the EEOC complaint but said that the complaint "played no role" in his termination.

"I think his file speaks for itself," Harris said, noting that he tried several times to talk to Brannon before having the predisciplinary hearing, but Brannon declined to contact him.

On leave: City officials said Brannon has filed workers' compensation claims and has been on a disability leave for about two years.

Gary Cicero, the city's human resource director, declined to release the workers' compensation file, noting the documents deal with Brannon's medical history and are not public record.

According to a two-page description of Brannon's administrative charge, written by Cicero, Brannon was asked in November to sign an "authorization for release of medical information" but did not.

The charges further state that Jan. 16 and March 1 workers' compensation hearings had to be continued because Brannon did not complete the medical release form. Brannon did provide the city with a current, signed medical release March 1, the charges state.

The city scheduled an April 10 medical examination for Brannon but Brannon did not show because he had another appointment, the charges state. A letter from Brannon's attorney to the city states that Brannon was not informed of the doctor's appointment until April 6.

Harris sent a letter to Brannon April 25 stating that Brannon must provide Harris with proof that he had an appointment with the EEOC on April 10. The letter states that failure to provide the proof could result in disciplinary action.

Union members said part of their contract states that a union member can choose to have a representative deal with city officials.

The charges also state that on April 20, Brannon did report for a doctor's appointment but refused to be examined unless he could either tape record the exam or have a witness at the examination. The doctor refused to allow Brannon to tape record the exam and Brannon did not have a witness with him so the exam was not done, the report states.




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