Fairfield Township trustees announced on Tuesday night that they have decided to terminate the employment of fire chief David Downie. The decision was made public in a room packed full of Downie's supporters, many of whom became angry at the news.
Downie has been fighting to keep his job - and had to testify at a disciplinary hearing just last week. His supporters are outraged - saying he served the township well and didn't deserve to lose his job. "You guys have no balls to do it to his face! You can't do it when he's here!"
The crowd of supporters began shouting insults at trustees after hearing the decision. Police were called in to escort the trustees out of the room. "Why don't he come over here? I'll wait outside for you by your junk-ass car. "
Chief Downie wasn't there when trustees fired him-but his mother was. "They didn't have the guts to tel my son. He's in Washington, DC with the honor guard. They didn't have the guts to tell him. God, and I just feel so bad for him."
Downie had been fighting to keep his job since he was put on paid administrative leave in January. Trustees say Downie is guilty of five disciplinary charges - stemming from a series of verbal run-ins with township leaders and allegations that he didn't go to a mandatory meeting. Shannon Hartkemeyer is a Downie supporter who told Local 12's Angela Ingram, "These charges are completely ridiculous. The kangaroo court that we've been witnessing here over the past few weeks is a pure waste of taxpayer dollars."
Downie had been chief for more than 25 years - and a career firefighter for 36 years. "He's a good man."
Trustees left out the back door. Others leaving from the front faced the angry crowd - and left with no comment. Downie's mother is devastated - but, was more concerned about how her son would react to the news. "It's a shame to think that my husband was fire chief and his brother was a fireman and I supported these trustees. I voted for them."
Downie's supporters threatened to vote trustees out of office.
Trustees say because the hearing process is similar to a court proceeding - they won't be making any public comments about their decision. Trustees made a motion to look for an interim chief. Downie has the right to appeal the decision to the Court of Common Pleas. Trustees say they won't listen to public comment until after Downie has exhausted his appeals.