OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ogdensburg firefighters made quick work of a fire – keeping a bad situation from getting worse. So why is an assistant fire chief now suspended?
It got exciting at 414 Seymour Street on January 4. A kitchen stove’s gas line leaked and caught fire.
Firefighters and the resident there agree this is what happened next:
“Luckily our quick response, we were able to get there quickly and get the gas shut off and the flames taken care of before it was able to spread,” said Jason Bouchard, Ogdensburg Professional Firefighters Local 1799 president.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. Now, an Ogdensburg assistant fire chief is suspended for 30 days as a result of events that night. At city hall, officials acknowledge the suspension but say they can’t give details.
“We don’t want to taint the hearing process. We certainly don’t want to predetermine the facts,” said Stephen Jellie, Ogdensburg city manager.
The firefighters union says the city’s charge against Assistant Chief Ronald Bouchard is that he failed to request mutual aid from other departments that night. They say that’s a new directive from Jellie. But they think the suspension is about more than that.
“I think it’s retaliation. He clearly has made Ron Bouchard and myself a target, very openly to the media. … This is just his way of silencing someone,” said Jason Bouchard.
Ronald Bouchard is a union official. The suspension came two days after the union rejected a contract offer.
Jellie says the suspension has nothing to do with retaliation.
“The union alleging such is absolutely ridiculous and no such thing has occurred,” he said.
Jellie, who also serves as fire chief, says the requirement to call mutual aid is for firefighters’ safety. He wants it done before they even leave for the fire, so help can come quickly.
Ronald Bouchard is the fourth firefighter in the department to face discipline from city hall.
One case was resolved by retirement. One was resolved by mutual agreement. A third one seeking a firefighter’s firing is still in process.