A Baltimore fire commander, who was dismissed after being deemed "negligent" and "incompetent" in his role at a live-burn training exercise in which a 29-year-old recruit died last year, will be reinstated and likely promoted after authorities determined that his termination was not proper.
The city's civil service commissioner has upheld a hearing examiner's decision to reinstate Lt. Barry P. Broyles, the instructor in charge of an ill-prepared rescue team that responded to the fatal exercise Feb. 9, 2007, in which Racheal M. Wilson was killed. He was among three officers who lost their jobs in the fallout from that incident.
Broyles, a 32-year veteran, will receive back pay and benefits dating to July 13, 2007, according to a letter from Devon Dodson, president of the civil service commission. Because he was due to be promoted during the period in which he was suspended, he will also return as a captain, possibly at the fire academy.
Reached yesterday, Broyles said the decision was a relief. He has maintained that he did not violate department rules and said restoring his reputation is important.
"I couldn't understand why they were doing this to me," Broyles said. "This job is the only job I've ever wanted in my life. It was a dream to me, and it's still a dream to get back."
He said one of the key accusations against him was that the hose for his rescue group was coiled in the back of a pickup truck instead of being filled with water and ready to go, a safety violation noted in the state documents. At his hearings, Broyles said that he noted that the department's training materials did not stipulate that his team was responsible for a charged hose line.
He said he believed that his firing was retribution for his decision to voice concerns about the department's hiring practices when he was interviewed by investigators after Wilson's death. A trial board had recommended that he be terminated.
Chief Kevin Cartwright, a Fire Department spokesman, said he did not have details of Broyles' reinstatement and could not comment.
Capt. Stephan G. Fugate, the president of Baltimore's fire officers union who personally represented Broyles in his hearings, said Broyles' retroactive promotion could bump someone on the current promotion list. He said he would work with Chief Jim Clack on the issue.
Yesterday, Clack swore in his new management team at a ceremony at the fire academy. The appointments were: Division Chief Lloyd R. Carter, support services; Deputy Chief Ernest O. Trimper III, logistics; Deputy Chief Raymond C. O'Brocki, community risk reduction within the Office of the Fire Marshal; Deputy Chief Joseph V. Brocato, education and training, including all aspects of the fire training academy; Deputy Chief Arthur F. Cate, information technology division and fire communications; Deputy Chief Dickson Henry, EMS; and Cartwright, director of communications.
Deputy Chiefs Reginald L. Sessions, Steve Weigman, Jeffrey R. Segal and Raymond O. Devilbiss will also be responsible for managing day-to-day field operations of 36 engines, 19 truck companies, 22 first-line medic units and four critical alert medics, as well as coordinating special equipment such as mobile command and water rescue operations.