October 20, 2014

Elyria
Mostly cloudy
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Westlake fire chief demoted, suspended

WESTLAKE — A fire chief who used on-duty firefighters to service his family’s vehicles was demoted and suspended without pay for 30 days, Mayor Dennis Clough said.

The union representing Westlake firefighters complained in June about Fire Chief Richard Pietrick asking them to do repair work on the cars, said Clough, who announced the results of the city’s investigation Friday.

Pietrick, who had been fire chief since 1994, never ordered a subordinate to do the jobs, and there’s no policy forbidding firefighters from helping each other or a senior officer, said his attorney Joseph Diemert Jr. He called the repairs an example of a firehouse culture that encourages sharing skills with comrades.

An appeal will be filed, Diemert said.

The city’s labor attorney, Gary Johnson, said the firefighters felt pressured by Pietrick do the work.

Clough said auditors will determine whether criminal charges of theft in office should be pursued.