Update from Escambia County on Fire Rescue investigation

From the Escambia County Public Information:

Based on an internal complaint levied in Escambia Fire Rescue, a multifaceted investigation was launched by county leadership that has spanned the last several months. The allegations brought forth were broad in scope. County Administrator Jack Brown tasked Assistant County Administrator Matt Coughlin with oversight of the investigation which is being conducted by a designated investigator. Each complaint was deliberately investigated, which primarily focused on bullying and general harassment type behavior.

The investigation is still ongoing; three disciplinary actions have taken place to date:

· Dec. 14, 2017 – Joseph Martin, Fire Lieutenant – Letter of reprimand
· Dec. 27, 2017 – Christopher Watson, Fire Fighter – Dismissal
· Jan. 29 – Patrick Grace, Chief – Relief of duties

While Chief Grace was not the focus of the investigation, it was concluded that a change in leadership, department direction and culture is needed. A national search for a replacement will be conducted to fill the position. Deputy Chief Paul Williams has been designated as interim chief.

Escambia County takes all complaints of misconduct or any type of harassment very seriously. County administration will not tolerate actions by our senior leadership or employees that make our workplace unsafe or unwelcoming for those who work or visit our facilities.

Moving forward, Escambia County will continue to put an emphasis on training that focuses on professionalism in all aspects of the workplace.