Vermont fire chief suspended for ‘bullying’ behavior

January 16, 2020 GMT

RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont fire chief was suspended for conduct perceived by membership as “intimidating, bullying, condescending and/or belittling.”

Rutland Mayor David Allaire announced Fire Chief James Larsen’s weeklong suspension after reports surfaced that he created a hostile work environment, the Rutland Herald reported Wednsday.

In a letter to the city’s human resources director, the president, secretary and treasurer of the International Association of Firefighters Local 2323 outline how his behavior was grounds for a complaint to the Vermont Labor Relations Board.

The letter was cosigned by 16 other firefighters. In a subsequent letter, the mayor stated the suspension will run from Jan. 12 to Jan. 18.

Upon return, the chief will be on a performance improvement plan and he will have to hold a meeting to explain his plans to the department, according to the mayor’s letter.

The allegations range from the chief blaming officers and firefighters for not completing projects and asking them to be honest and open about their feelings and then reacting to that honesty with belittling and condescension.