There are new details coming to light of what led to the dismissal of three Wyoming firefighters.
In February, three veteran firefighters, Lt. Carrie Ann Wilson, Sr. Firefighter Jason Lyon and District Chief Jeff Scott were dismissed after an investigations into allegations of physical and verbal abuse of Wilson at the scene of an incident.
In an news release issued today, the trio’s lawyers say they are ready to talk about the dismissal. They say it was a case of wrongful dismissal.
The lawyers, Matthew Chapman and William Fawcett say in August, Wilson was physically assaulted by another firefighter who the lawyers name as Pete Moraal. Wilson alleges Moraal shoved her out of the way at the scene of an incident with his shoulder after a verbal disagreement.
Chapman and Fawcett says Wilson was also verbally assaulted at the scene of a fire in September – car had fled into a farmers field and one of the stations pumpers slipped into a creek after a soft bank gave way.
“During the verbal assault, Lieutenant Moraal had to be physically restrained by other firefighters. Lieutenant Wilson, who is the only female firefighter to have served in the history of the department and who had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant less than three years after joining the fire service, was the Incident Commander for both incident responses when the abuse by Lieutenant Moraal occurred,” the lawyers alleges in the news release.
Wilson chose not to file a complaint after being physically assaulted for fear of reprisal.
The two incidents came to light in December at an officers meeting and an investigation started.
Darcy Michaud of HRprimed was the investigator. The lawyers say he had “an appearance of being coopted toward scrutinizing members of the fire department who had clashed with Chief Steve Clemens since his hiring in late 2016.”
Fawcett and Chapman say the three were dismissed the day before the investigators report was given to council.
Three other firefighters resigned after they were reprimanded after the investigation – including Capt. Mike McGrail, who brought the incidents to light.
The lawyers say all six involved had challenged the chief in the past, and say Wilson was the firefighter who discovered a webcam in the department in 2017.
Clemens had been placed on leave in June 2017 while a lawyer hired by the town investigated. Clemens was cleared of any wrong doing. Fawcett says all those who were dismissed or reprimanded had challenged Chief Clemens in the past.
“There is a long standing conflict between Chief Clemens with a number of the people in the fire department; Carrie Ann and Jason are among them,” says Fawcett.
Since the February dismissals, 15 firefighters have left the Wyoming department.
Lawyers say in March, 27 members of the service submitted a letter to Mayor Lonny Napper and council raising concerns about Clemens’ leadership, the poisonous environment created in the department and their concerns the fire department would not be able to function well in the current situation.
That letter has never been dealt with publicly.
Fawcett says there no wrongful dismissal claim filed but it is pending.
The Independent did request a statement from the Town of Plympton-Wyoming. CAO Carolyn Tripp says the town doesn’t comment on Human Resource issues.