Lebanon city manager fires fire chief, says policies weren't followed after collision

Also cites 'previous disciplinary action'
Posted at 10:54 AM, Sep 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-20 18:24:29-04

LEBANON, Ohio -- Lebanon's city manager fired the fire chief Monday, saying the department didn't follow policies and procedures after a crash involving one of the city's fire engines last month.

City Manager Pat Clements also cited "previous disciplinary action" against former chief Pierino "Perry" Gerome. According to the Dayton Daily News, Gerome called on-duty fire crews and equipment to his home to help surprise his wife for her 50th birthday by pretending the house was on fire.

Gerome also had crews deliver a chain saw to help him clear fallen limbs after a storm earlier this year, the Dayton Daily News reported.

Clements called the actions "an abuse of authority." Records show the city suspended Gerome without pay for five days last spring, ordered him to reimburse the city $1,025 and provide his department ethics training.

And, in an April 25 disciplinary letter, Clements warned Gerome he could be fired if he didn't straighten up.

"Your willful disregard of the ethical standards of public employment and your demonstrated lack of leadership has caused me to seriously question whether you are able to effectively serve in the position of fire chief," Clements wrote. "Further lapse in leadership and judgment on your part will result in termination of your employment."

Read the entire letter below:

Before the disciplinary issues this spring, Gerome received "exceeds standards" and "outstanding" ratings on his two annual performance reviews with the city of Lebanon.

Clements said Tuesday he found city policies and procedures weren't followed after an Aug. 31 crash involving a fire engine that swiped a telephone pole. Firefighter/Paramedic Adam Ansley wrote in an accident report that he was turning right at Mound Court and Mound Street when a car coming from the other direction caused him to turn sharply.

According to the accident report, Ansley thought he'd cleared the intersection without a problem but found damage to the engine's side when he got back to the fire station.

"He’s very likeable," City Councilman Stephen Kaiser said. "I like, most of the people I know, like him. I’m sure he had a good rapport with his staff over there. I think part of his problem was handling the details of the administrative end of it.

"You have to be able to do the administrative part and do it properly, and I think that’s where he fell down."

Clements hired Gerome in March 2014. The city manager named Capt. Stephen Johnson as acting fire chief Monday.

Before becoming Lebanon's fire chief, Gerome was in charge of the Sycamore Township Fire Department. He also worked for fire departments in Anderson Township and Clermont County's Union Township.