Huron fire chief suspended for 3 days

HURON Huron fire Chief Paul Berlin was hit with a three-day unpaid suspension in June.
May 24, 2010



Huron fire Chief Paul Berlin was hit with a three-day unpaid suspension in June.

Berlin served his suspension from June 5 until the close of business June 9, according to a letter from city manager Andrew White that was placed in Berlin's personnel file.

White refused to comment on the chief's suspension.

"No comment about personnel in the newspaper," White said.

In a May 22 letter informing Berlin of his pre-disciplinary hearing, White wrote: "The charges against you relate to not following established protocols and not properly supervising members of your division."

Berlin, who makes $72,910.78 a year, did not return a call for comment. He's been the fire chief since 2003.

Berlin's personnel file did not include any documentation describing specific incidents that led to his suspension.

White wrote a two-paragraph letter to inform the chief of his suspension.

"I have reviewed my notes and considered the statements you provided me during our recent meetings over the last week regarding proposed discipline. As a result of my review of this matter I have decided to impose a three-day suspension without pay," White wrote.

Firefighter Matt Meyer and police officer Nate Orzech were both suspended for 45 days without pay earlier this year for their roles in manipulating a blood pressure test to qualify for a "wellness" credit under the city's health benefits plan. Meyer provided Orzech with a pill to help lower Orzech's blood pressure so he could pass the test.

In April, White conducted his own inspection of the fire department. The inspection was prompted in part because of the pill-popping incident.

"At this time I'm just looking into the overall operation of the fire department to safeguard this from ever happening again," White said in April when asked about his investigation.

The decision to suspend Berlin for three days without pay was the decision of White, Mayor Marilyn Shearer said.

"The city manager keeps us informed when there is some sort of discipline involving a city employee, but we leave the discipline up to him," Shearer said.