The Kennewick fire chief says he has been placed on administrative leave and was forced to turn in his keys.
Fire Chief Vince Beasley sent an email to city council members, city employees and the news media Saturday night disputing reports he was retiring.
Late Friday afternoon Kennewick City Manager Marie Mosley had sent an email to employees about Beasley.
“I understand there are rumors going around regarding Chief Beasley so I wanted to let you all know that we are currently having discussions regarding his potential retirement from the City,” said Mosley’s email.
She said she expected “a decision on Monday and will share the information with you at that time. In the meantime and out of respect for Chief Beasley and the process please give us the time we need and trust that we will make any announcements as soon as we have something to announce.”
Beasley refutes retirement claim
But on Saturday, Beasley soundly rejected Mosley’s “surprising” email describing the situation.
“Let me make the record abundantly clear: I have not instigated any discussions regarding retirement with the City Manager or anyone else,” he wrote in an email from his personal account.
“I have absolutely NOT been planning to retire as Kennewick’s Fire Chief,” he said. “I have had NO intention to do so, as I have many exciting projects remaining to accomplish as the City of Kennewick Fire Chief.”
Instead, Beasely said he was told Sept. 3 he was being terminated and instructed not to attend that night’s city council meeting.
He said he was allowed to attend the council meeting on Sept. 10 because, “I had been previously scheduled to give a presentation.”
Then, on Sept. 17, he said he was given a “separation agreement” that “I did not agree to, nor feel comfortable signing.” As a result, he was told he was placed on administrative leave.
The next day, Mosley demanded he return his keys and all city property, Beasley said. “As a result, I have complied with the request, despite never receiving any formal termination papers,” he said.
“I am perplexed by these events, as I have worked tirelessly for nearly five years as Kennewick’s Fire Chief to accomplish so many fantastic achievements on behalf of our community and fire department,” he wrote, and included a list of projects he has worked on.
“I feel blessed to have worked for the past 37 years in such in a wonderfully supportive, family-oriented community,” Beasley wrote, adding, “I am excited to continue moving this department forward with excellence for many years to come.”
Kennewick’s 12th fire chief
Beasley became the city’s 12th fire chief in 2014 after the battalion chief was named to oversee daily operations at the fire department.
He is a dual chief with Chief Neil Hines, who became chief in 2005. The department was restructured to have two chiefs after two deputy chiefs retired.
Hines is the department’s project manager, overseeing inspections, training and special projects in the city, including adding the fifth fire station.
Beasley has been a city of Kennewick employee since 1982. He was promoted to battalion chief in 2003 and turned down an opportunity in 2007 to be Wenatchee’s fire chief.
In 2017, Beasley, the city’s first black firefighter, was chosen as Columbia Basin College’s Martin Luther King Jr. Spirit Award.