City fire chief placed on administrative leave|Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS-Inspections Department under external investigation

Published 2:20 am Thursday, June 18, 2009

Contributing Editor

Jimmy Davis, chief of the Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS-Inspections Department, is on administrative leave, said City Manager James C. Smith.
Smith said he made the decision to place Davis on administrative leave — with pay — Wednesday morning. Davis’ current annual salary is $73,261.
“We have been reviewing the operations of the fire department,” Smith said in a brief interview Wednesday.
That review was conducted by an independent body, not by the city, Smith said.
Smith replied “no,” when asked if the Washington Police Department or any other law-enforcement agency had been or currently is investigating the fire department and/or Davis.
Division Chief Robbie Rose is acting chief of the department. Smith said he has full confidence in Rose’s ability to run the department while Davis is on leave.
In a brief statement e-mailed to the Washington Daily News on Wednesday afternoon, Smith cited state law and city personnel policies for not revealing additional information about Davis’ situation.
Mayor Judy Meier Jennette confirmed that Davis is on administrative leave, but provided little information about the matter.
“Because it’s a personnel issue, we’re not allowed to discuss anything,” Jennette said.
The mayor explained, though, that under the council-manager form of city government, the city manager hires and fires department heads.
During its nearly seven-hour meeting Monday, the City Council spent about an hour in closed session, held in part to discuss a personnel issue.
The state’s open-meetings law allows the council to meet in closed session to “hear or investigate a complaint, charge, or grievance by or against an individual public officer or employee.”
Davis was named chief on May 31, 2004, replacing Chief Nelson Pyle, who retired in April 2004.
Davis joined the department as a paid firefighter on July 1, 1984, according to Susan Hodges, the city’s human resources director.
Hodges declined to answer whether Davis has ever been demoted, suspended or previously placed on administrative leave while working for the city. The Daily News had submitted questions in writing to Hodges.
Davis helped lead the effort to build the city’s second fire station, which opened in April 2008, and formed the department’s auxiliary, which provides various types of support to the department.
Telephone calls Wednesday to Davis’ office, residence and cell phone were not returned.