A 12-year member of the Eau Claire Fire Department was fired Wednesday by the city’s Police and Fire Commission.
Brian Mero was terminated based on charges made by Fire Chief Chris Bell of misconduct, dishonesty, false reporting and using improper means to report alleged misconduct by his supervisors.
After the commission terminated Mero Wednesday morning, Bell said “it’s never fun” to let somebody go.
“It’s something that you only do if it’s absolutely necessary. It’s the things that are necessary for the good of the organization,” Bell said.
“For firefighters, we have to be honest and truthful in what we do,” he said. “The public expects that and I expect that.”
Mero could not be reached for comment.
According to the 15-page termination order approved Wednesday by the commission:
Mero performed his job duties acceptably and even commendably at times.
But unacceptable conduct that included dishonesty and filing of false reports that gave rise to Bell’s charges disqualify Mero from continued employment with the Fire Department.
At a Feb. 5 closed session hearing to gain testimony from all parties, Mero failed to offer any credible evidence disputing or adequately explaining his conduct.
Mero was returned to the rank of firefighter after his supervisors found his performance as a probationary engineer was deficient.
Even though Mero signed a performance improvement plan to improve his skills and attitude, he remained disgruntled.
“Although admittedly never asking for help and declining it when asked how he was doing by supervisors, he subsequently came to believe that his supervisors never trained him, never helped him, and he alleged without factual support that (two supervisors) were intentionally out to get him,” the order said. “He admits this feeling of his was not based on fact but on feeling or speculation.”
Mero filed charges of misconduct against the two supervisors in a manner contrary to department policy.
The charges containing false statements were filed with the Police and Fire Commission.
After dismissal of the charges and a meeting with supervisors, Mero was reminded of the proper method to raise complaints and the high importance of being truthful in reports.
The commission concluded Mero violated department rules intentionally for personal gain — stemming from his own anger, embarrassment or other feelings that clouded his sound judgment — to retaliate against those supervisors who held him to a performance standard for the safety and good of the Fire Department.
“Any employee should know that untruthfulness, failure to file accurate reports and disregard or disobedience to the lawful acts of supervisors, is cause for serious discipline, including termination,” the order said. “Even more so, firefighters understand that failure to perform their duties in a manner that is honest, accountable, and responsive to command put fellow firefighters, patients and victims, and ultimately the entire community at peril. Firefighters know from the time of hiring the high significance the department and city place on honesty, integrity and public service.”