SOUTH WEBER, UT — Mayor Tammy Long dismissed South Weber Fire Chief Thomas Graydon after he refused to terminate the deputy chief following an investigation into allegedly falsified payroll sheets, City Manager Tom Smith said Tuesday.
The investigation by Graydon determined Deputy Chief Frank Patrick entered inaccurate information on South Weber Fire Department run sheets, which are records of firefighter participation on fire calls and are used to fulfill payroll, Smith said.
The two chiefs and all other South Weber firefighters are part-time volunteers who are paid stipends for participating in firefighting and other duties, Smith said. Since June, Patrick falsified run sheet reports, including reporting going on calls in which he did not participate, Smith said.
“Approximately 15 incidents are corroborated” by the investigation, the city manager said. He said amounts of overpayments to Patrick are not yet known.
“This really blindsided me,” Long said Tuesday.
She said the city would review the department’s run sheet procedures in light of the alleged falsifications.
Smith said Graydon approached him in early September, saying he was investigating Patrick after two other firefighters alerted him to apparently falsified run sheets.
“He found out that he (Patrick) had committed theft,” Smith said.
Graydon suspended Patrick without pay pending further investigation. Smith said he told Graydon that Patrick should be fired. Graydon refused, so Smith took over the disciplinary action and fired Patrick.
“The fire chief conducted the investigation and did a very good job on it,” Smith said. “However, his conclusion to keep him (Patrick) on was inconsistent” with the city’s ethics policies.
Smith notified Long of Graydon’s stance, which resulted in an Oct. 11 closed meeting of the mayor and city council. Then Long scheduled a meeting with Graydon and Smith, which occurred Monday.
“She thanked him for his service and asked him to step down,” Smith said. He said the reasons for the action were not given because the volunteer firefighters are treated as at-will personnel and can be terminated without cause.
The alleged theft remains under investigation and has not been reported to Davis County law enforcement, Smith said.
“Not yet,” he said. “It’s still pending investigation. It depends on how much was reported to be stolen.”
Efforts to reach Graydon and Patrick were not immediately successful.
South Weber’s fire department has a $121,000 budget, $39,000 of that listed under “part-time employee wages,” city records show. The budget funds the chief and deputy chief positions and 19 firefighter / emergency medical technician positions.
Smith said Graydon received a $200 monthly stipend.
Smith said the city council this summer discussed possibly disbanding the volunteer fire department and contracting for fire service with another agency, such as the North Davis Fire District. The idea was to investigate whether the city could cut costs.
“We have not pursued that,” Smith said. “We have a good facility, a good department, that adequately meet the levels of services we need,” he said.
But Long said later Tuesday, “We plan on discussing it more.”
Smith said Capt. Travis Nicholson has been named interim fire chief.