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Reinstated firefighter wants disciplinary action revoked
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Forsyth County News
A firefighter who was fired in December for insubordination may seek help from a higher court if the Forsyth County Civil Service board does not reconsider its disciplinary action against him.

Brandon Nash’s request comes despite the fact he was reinstated to his job earlier this month.

Following public hearings Feb. 12 and 13, the board reversed Nash’s previous dismissal, determining that the fire department did not follow its own procedures in firing him.

Nash returned to work March 3, but only after the civil service board recommended he be demoted from Firefighter II to Firefighter I with a reduction in pay. It also ruled he would not be paid for the time he had been out of work.

At a called meeting Monday afternoon Nash’s lawyer, Rob Reid, argued that the disciplinary actions were meant to serve as a step system, according to the employee handbook.

“In my experience as an employment attorney, I’ve never seen progressive discipline allow you to combine steps such as that,” Reid said Monday.

Attorney Paul Frickey, who represented the county, disagreed. Citing the employee handbook, Frickey said there was no restriction or limitation on discipline.

“Other forms of discipline are contemplated, and that’s the basis of the board’s opposition to the motion for reconsideration ... the framework of the rules do provide for the action the board has imposed.”

Reid said Nash plans to file for writ of certiorari in Superior Court if the board does not reconsider its previous disciplinary action.

In its decision of the case, which was detailed in a letter from civil service chairman Avery Howell, Nash was fired due to an incident in November in which he “disregarded a director order from Lt. Shane Lively” to put materials on a fire truck after a smoke-clearing operation at a home.

The letter cited a “pattern of previous insubordination” and pointed to the “testimony of a number of witnesses that there is a problem beyond your behavior in the fire department.”

But testimonies during the Feb. 12 and 13 hearings uncovered problems with the procedures used prior to Nash’s termination.

According to Battalion Chief Anthony Chapman, there was no investigation, which is protocol in fire department policy.

In the letter, Howell wrote: “While it is likely that all of the [firefighters involved] would have supported Lt. Lively’s version of what happened, that misses the point of the reason that the fire department has the policy of investigation before discipline — fundamental fairness to all.”

E-mail Frank Reddy at frankreddy@forsythnews.com.