Wabash firefighter placed on administrative leave

by Joseph Slacian

A Wabash firefighter-paramedic requested that he be placed on administrative leave until an operating while intoxicated charge he received in Fulton County is resolved.

The firefighter, Scott Reese, had the request granted Jan. 7 by the Wabash Board of Public Works & Safety. He will begin the administrative leave once about 10 accumulated vacation and comp days have been used, Fire Chief Bob Mullett said.

Mullett requested disciplinary action from the board against Reese because of the Fulton County incident.

Under state statute, Reese had three options before the board, City Attorney Doug Lehman told board members.

“He has a right to have a hearing to determine whether or not he has committed any act that would be grounds for demotion, dismissal, forfeiture of pay, or whatever appropriate punishment that you might have,” Lehman said. “He has a right to have at least 14 days before that hearing is conducted, and he has a right to insist that hearing be conducted within 30 days.”

The Board could also delay its action.

“In the past we have placed firefighters on administrative leave until those charges are resolved,” the attorney continued. “There’s always the possibility that he could be acquitted or that the charges be resolved in some other matter that may or may not influence you in any way with what you want to do with punishment.”

Reese presented the board with a written request for the unpaid administrative leave.

“I honestly don’t know what kind of time frame I’m looking at here,” he said. “I would like to say within a month or two, but I can’t swear to that. They’ve already kind of drug it out longer than I expected initially.

“I can say as soon as I know something on that end I can notify Chief Mullett and proceed to go forth from there.”

Board member Greg Metz asked if the panel needed to set a timeline for the leave to end. However, Lehman said in past situations the board had not set a deadline.

“Firefighter Reese has kept the chief informed on the situation,” Lehman said. “I’m sure once they are resolved, even if they are not resolved favorably, he will let us know.”

The attorney said that because the arrest and court procedures are public record, he could periodically check on the matter and keep the board informed.

“It’s not going to be a situation where we’re not going to know that things have been resolved,” he said. 

Posted on 2015 Jan 13