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City officials announce assistant chief from Dallas will be Cincy's newest fire chief

Frank McKinley.JPG
Posted at 10:51 AM, Sep 12, 2023

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati's newest fire chief will be Frank McKinley, who is currently employed as the assistant chief of the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department, city officials announced Tuesday afternoon.

The position has been filled in the interim by Steven Breitfelder since March, when former Cincinnati Fire Chief Michael Washington was fired by the city amid allegations that he fostered a workplace culture that was not welcoming for women.

Breitfelder was one of four candidates considered for the role; Also hoping to become Cincinnati's newest fire chief were McKinley, Francis DiPaula and Brian Schaeffer.

DiPaula is currently working for the Baltimore County Fire Department, where he has been employed since 2015. Schaeffer has been serving as fire chief in Spokane, Washington since 2005.

When she announced his firing, Long claimed that during Washington’s tenure, multiple female CFD employees voiced concerns about a workplace culture that allows women to be treated unfairly and with disrespect. Washington was allegedly ordered to deliver a climate assessment, but it was never conducted.

Women Helping Women, a social services organization, was brought in to deliver training to CFD. According to Long, both city administration and Women Helping Women were unsatisfied with Washington's implementation of the training as well as his "lack of concern about workplace issues related to women."

Long said a memo from Women Helping Women described that “the problem lies with key leadership, namely fire chief” and that “language and actions perpetuate [a] ‘boys club’ mentality.”

After his firing in March, Washington filed a lawsuit suing the City of Cincinnati and Long individually. The lawsuit says the allegations made against Washington were "groundless" and "exaggerated."

The lawsuit also claims a summary of the first phase of CFD's program with Women Helping Women was "positive overall," with the second phase slated to begin just before Washington was fired.

"No documentation of Chief Washington's alleged failure to implement a 'climate assessment' existed prior to the March 24 letter, and the executive summary from Women Helping Women made no references to a lack of adequate support from Chief Washington," reads the lawsuit.

It goes on to say Washington was never given prior notice ahead of his firing, and was never given the opportunity to defend himself against the allegations Long made against him.

Washington's lawsuit is still pending in court.

He was originally appointed to fire chief in May 2021; He was tapped to fill the role after the previous chief, Roy Winston, retired. Winston served as Cincinnati's fire chief for 33 years.

Washington himself was a CFD veteran with over 25 years in the department, serving as CFD's assistant chief before his appointment to fire chief.

Former Cincinnati Fire Chief sues city for wrongful termination