Two Minneapolis Fire Commanders Reassigned Following Internal Probe

Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel has reassigned two training commanders after an internal investigation into an incident last month in which a rookie firefighter was physically accosted by a superior.

Following the probe, Deputy Chief J.R. Klepp will no longer run the department’s training division and has been transferred back to the rank of battalion chief for his handling of the incident, officials say. Capt. Chad Komarec was also removed from his assignment as a trainer in the firefighters’ academy, officials say. He will be reassigned to one of the city’s firehouses.

Officials have so far divulged little about the incident that triggered the internal investigation. Department officials were alerted to a physical confrontation between Komarec and an unidentified cadet last month, in which Komarec was said to have grabbed the man and shoved him against a wall during a training exercise. Word of the encounter eventually got back to Fruetel, who ordered an investigation. The results have not been made public.

A Fire Department spokesman, Assistant Chief Bryan Tyner, said he could confirm only that the two commanders had been transferred but couldn’t otherwise comment on what he called a personnel decision.

“I can tell you there was an investigation and the department took appropriate action based upon the results of that investigation,” Tyner said when reached on Tuesday afternoon.

The firefighters union said it had no role in the probe that resulted in the commanders’ reassignments.

Mark Lakosky, president of Local 82, said he couldn’t say much about the matter because he wasn’t involved in the investigation and because the union represented everyone involved.

“This decision is 100 percent the chief’s decision — as the Local 82 we don’t contractually get any play in this, even as far as grieving the process,” he said Tuesday. “The removal action is probably a statement of his findings, no doubt about it.”

Messages left seeking comment from Klepp and Komarec weren’t immediately returned on Tuesday.

The news comes as a City Council committee signed off on a $785,000 settlement to a former firefighter who sued the city for discrimination, alleging that he was forced into early retirement when he wasn’t allowed to wear prescribed shoes after being injured on the job.

From www.startribune.com