What’s Happening in Ilion With Mayor and Fire Dept.?
Things are heating up at the Ilion Fire Department and this issue has nothing to do with a blaze. Since the end of last year, there have been heated relations between the fire department leadership, versus Ilion Mayor Brian Lamica, and Deputy Mayor Chuck Lester, according to residents close to the conflict.
Now, three members of the department have been disciplined including the fire chief, Thomas Pedersen, who has now been removed from his position. According to reports, Pedersen has been demoted in the fire department and retains his position as village codes officer. Two other members have also been disciplined by either being suspended or terminated.
Mayor Lamica released a statement to some members of the media claiming there's an investigation into the matter:
It has come to the attention of the Village of Ilion Board of Trustees that there are comments being circulated on social media and through other media outlets regarding the operation of the Ilion Fire Department. On behalf of the Village Board, I want to take this opportunity to share information with our residents regarding the Ilion Fire Department so that the public has the facts. First, the safety of Village residents is of paramount importance to the Village Board. Changes have been made to the Command structure of the department with the goal of maintaining service and timely responses to calls. Second, residents need to know that the Village is in receipt of a complaint filed by a now former employee of the Village, alleging conduct which could subject the Village to legal liability. Based upon receipt of the Complaint, the Village has undertaken a comprehensive review and investigation of the operations of the Fire Department. As a result of the ongoing investigation, changes are being made and contemplated to ensure Village residents’ safety and the propriety of Village operations. The Village Board has a responsibility to take action when presented with information which may subject the Village to legal liability. While some individuals may prefer that the status quo in the Fire Department be maintained, the Board would not be fulfilling its responsibility by doing so. To the contrary, the Village Board is united in its position that a comprehensive review and investigation of the operation of the Fire Department is required. Such an inquiry by the Board is necessary to protect the Village from potential legal liability and ensure its compliance with applicable law, rule and regulation. Mayor Brian D. Lamica
Deputy Mayor Chuck Lester told WIBX he wouldn't speak on the issue because it is a personnel matter. When asked if he would send a copy of the statement that was sent out to other media outlets, Lester's response was, "Nope."
In a report Thursday afternoon in the Times-Telegram, Mayor Lamica said, "A complaint by a now former village employee has led to a shakeup in the Ilion Fire Department."
The deputy chiefs are now in charge of the department, according to the report. The Times-Telegram story also said former Chief Pedersen was a 24-year veteran of the Ilion Fire Department. The report did not name the other two members of the force who were reportedly disciplined.
Several community members have turned to Facebook to defend the three firefighters involved. "Both of these (suspended/terminated) firefighters are class acts along with the rest of the men and women of the Ilion Fire Department," said Kris Lenox on Facebook. Another resident told WIBX, the action by Mayor Lamica is a "gross abuse of power."
The wife of former Chief Pedersen, Jennifer Pedersen, will appear on WIBX's Keeler Show on Friday morning.
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