This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following this story. Flagler Beach, Florida City Manager Bruce Martin on Friday fired Chief Martin Roberts, Assistant Chief Shane Wood and firefighter Jacob Bissonnette. The three had been put on paid leave in January. Two volunteers were also separated from the fire department, Shane Wood’s father Steven and Barbara Haspiel. They all had been accused of drinking in the fire station in December with some of them responding on a call.
A sixth firefighter, Robert Pace, is accused of falsifying time sheets. Pace has been the interim fire chief during the investigation. Pace now faces the possibility of a suspension.
The investigation into the incident discovered there was basically a civil war inside the department between those loyal to Chief Roberts and those who weren’t.
Roberts, Haspiel and Steven Wood are accused of drinking during the fire department’s Christmas party Dec. 14 and then responding to a call. Shane Wood and Bissonnette are accused of drinking at the fire station after their shift ended Dec. 25.
Six members of the fire department were accused of wrongdoing and that “signifies to me a lack of organization control and leadership within the Fire Department,” Campbell wrote in a letter to Roberts notifying him of his termination. He also wrote that it’s “exceedingly disappointing and discouraging that you did not advise me of any of these issues and complaints until after the investigation into your own actions was begun.”
Dennis Bayer, a Flagler Beach attorney, said his clients, Bissonnette and Shane Wood, have “unblemished records” and plan to appeal their firings.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Bayer said about his clients’ firing. “I think this whole thing’s been a sham investigation from the beginning.”
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