Former Flint fire chief recalls last moments before termination
FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) – In a big change of leadership, Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton has been terminated from his post.
This comes amid controversy surrounding a deadly house fire in May when two boys died from smoke inhalation.
Barton said faulty wiring was the cause.
“Yesterday, I was called into the mayor’s office. When I walked in, and of course, he had other staff members in the office and he said ‘do you know why you’re in here?’ and I said yes,” Barton said.
Barton recounted his final moments serving as the leader of the Flint Fire Department, he said he was fired by mayor Sheldon Neeley on Thursday.
“He said well this happens two ways, you can resign or I’m going to be going in a different direction. And I said I’m not resigning, I’m not letting you off that easy,” Barton recounted.
Barton said Neeley told him that the reason he had to make a change was because of low morale in the fire department. Barton scoffed at that notion and said he gave everything, even to the detriment of his own family, to the Flint Fire Department.
He said, “I sacrificed my sons, relationship sometimes with my sons. Because they needed me, and my sons always had me.”
Barton is adamant he knows why the mayor wanted him gone.
“I’m fired because I feel I wouldn’t lie about the incident on Pulaski,” he stated.
Barton was referring to the case where two boys died in a house fire earlier this year.
Barton said two firefighters gave the all-clear while the boys were still inside the burning home and they were found six minutes later. Barton wanted those firefighters suspended without pay but he claims Neeley wanted them suspended with pay.
Both firefighters are no longer with the department and now the same can be said for Barton.
“I know it’s only going to be worse for me. But like I said, I’m tired. I lost over 20 pounds since August. It ain’t because I’ve been working out or changed my eating habits. It’s because I’ve been stressed out,” Barton admitted.
The city said in a statement to TV5, “We categorically deny that this personnel change was done in retaliation. We are focused on maintaining the safety of our community, and we will not debate staffing issues that fall under the mayor’s purview per the charter.”
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