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William Garrett is off the job less than six months after his appointment as chief of Virginia’s Winchester Fire & Rescue. There’s no explanation, at this point, whether the move is temporary or permanent. City Manager Eden Freeman will only say it’s a personnel matter. Freeman denies it has anything to do with Chief Garrett’s recent successful request to the City Council to delay implementation of the city’s new leave policies that Garrett believes will be detrimental to the recruitment and retention of firefighters.
Garrett took the Winchester job after 30-years with Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department, where he retired as a deputy chief. Over the weekend, a Facebook page was started supporting Chief Garrett.
In an email to The Winchester Star on Sunday, City Manager Eden Freeman said Garrett’s absence on Friday and today is over a “personnel matter.” In an automatic reply to an email on Sunday, Garrett said he would be out of the office until Tuesday and that questions regarding the fire department should be directed to Assistant Fire Chief Eddie McClellan, who Garrett said was the “interim fire chief.”
Freeman didn’t disclose the nature of the personnel matter, but she said in her email that it was unrelated to Garrett’s remarks at a Nov. 12 City Council meeting. Garrett said he supported a month delay in approving proposed changes to the city’s sick leave and vacation policies. Council members approved the delay after his comments.