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Former Potterville fire chief sites harassment, lack of transparency as reasons for resigning

Posted at 7:06 PM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-25 06:18:57-04

POTTERVILLE, Mich. — The chief of the Potterville City Fire Department suddenly resigned Monday night because he claims he worked in a hostile work environment and was harassed. He also claims the city has not been transparent in their talks of dissolving the department.

Ryan Lundquist's resignation letter speaks to a history of problems in the last year-and-a-half between him and the city.

Firefighters have been operating without a main engine for the last month and Lundquist said the city has dragged its feet while trying to decide whether to replace it or close the department.

The city is waiting for bids from neighboring departments to take over services and Lundquist said the process has not been transparent.

City Council Member, Katherine Schmidt thinks there's some truth to what he's saying.

"Since there have been some political changes, he has been harassed, our firefighters have been harassed. They've been through a lot and he expresses that to be a hostile work environment," Schmidt said. "Information has been grey at best coming from city hall and it's unclear which information is official information and which information is draft information."

Schmidt's referring to a letter written by City Manager, Aaron Sheridan to the state treasury department that proposes budgets in the upcoming fiscal years, including 'discussing and planning actions with neighboring communities for consolidated fire protection services to more affordably provide essential services.'

FOX 47 News' Carla Bayron reached out to Sheridan Wednesday for comment regarding this matter. He said, 'no comment.'

Schmidt said the city and first responders are stronger together.

"Council does need to in my opinion stand behind this department. Stand behind the men and women who volunteer and serve here and volunteer to run into fires, into danger when other people run away," she said.

In an email Wednesday afternoon to city council members, Sheridan said there are qualified people willing and able to serve as Interim Chief or Deputy Chief.

He feels the department could be up and running as early as next week, but it's dependent on hiring new chiefs.

The Benton Township Fire Department is currently covering Potterville.

The deputy chief and a volunteer also resigned Monday night.

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