KENNEWICK, Wash. - More details about the alleged termination of former Kennewick Fire Chief Vince Beasley are coming to light.
Beasley spoke out on Monday afternoon, explaining his side of the story. On Sept. 22, the City of Kennewick said Beasley has "effectively resigned his position." Beasley said this is not true, and that talks about termination started on Sept. 3.
Beasley said he was called into City Manager Marie Mosley's office for a pre-planned meeting.
"It was really a termination meeting," Beasley said.
He said he was sent home after that meeting and did not attend the city council meeting. Beasley said he was presented with a separation agreement containing additional benefits and salary to last for a few months. Beasley said he did not sign it.
The former fire chief attended the next council meeting on Sept. 10.
"The City Council had no idea what was transpiring," he said.
Attached in an email forwarded by Beasley, Mosley emailed the fire department on Sept. 20 saying, "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."
Beasley said city council members were not tagged in the email.
"To say I was on my way out and to ask me to sign and deceive and mislead the community that we have an agreement -- won't do it," Beasley said. "They were speaking for me but it wasn't the truth. To omit, to deceive, to keep it hidden in my opinion is just wrong,"
On Sept. 22 the City of Kennewick released a statement regarding former Chief Beasley. They said Mosley had been working with Beasley for months on performance and leadership concerns.
"So when you tell me there's no leadership and you tell me there's no vision, take a look at the programs and judge them for yourself," Beasley said. "I assure you, you will see leadership. You will see vision. You will see growth."
The City of Kennewick claims Beasley resigned.
"A retirement option had been discussed but an agreement was not reached," the statement said. "Due to his actions, former Chief Beasley has effectively resigned his position as the Fire Chief for the City of Kennewick effective immediately."
Beasley said this is inaccurate and claims he was terminated.
"I'm not resigning. I'm not signing the separation agreement," he explained. "If you sit behind a desk your career, and then you want to make an assessment as to what leadership is in the emergency field, you really have no concept because you've never been in front of it. And to say it's not leadership, that's false."
According to the former fire chief, he said he knew this day was coming with the way a 2018 evaluation was written and presented to him in March 2019. He said the "horrid evaluation' was built on the Bofer Canyon Fire that destroyed five homes in August 2018, claiming 95% of the evaluation was about that.
"Since that day, my life has been very difficult," Beasley explained. "I know after Bofer Canyon, it escalated from there."
In a statement, the city said:
"The most important thing for our community to know is that they can have the upmost confidence that the dedicated and professional men and women of the Kennewick Fire Department will continue to serve with distinction during this leadership transition and the entire City of Kennewick team remains focused on providing exceptional customer service to our community."
Beasley said he wants to see an injustice corrected, among other things.
"I would like to see the City of Kennewick council rise up, demand an explanation for the secrecy of events that led us here today," he explained. "I would also like a public apology followed by a written apology because this is nothing more than character assassination."
When asked about a potential lawsuit against the city, Beasley said, "I have not got there. I am not worried about that right now."
Beasley said he wants justice and his name cleared.
KAPP-KVEW reached out to the City of Kennewick for further comment after the statement was released. They declined an interview.
However, Evelyn Lusignan, Public Relations Director at the City of Kennewick said the process to find a new fire chief will take months. The search will begin immediately with the Western Fire Chiefs Association.
Right now, Kennewick's Police Chief Ken Hohenberg will be the interim Fire Chief.