Fire chief Ryan Baskett has been fired by the commissioners of Graham Fire and Rescue following a rift between Baskett and the district’s firefighters.
The dismissal came after a consultant’s report to the commissioners on complaints filed against the chief by Pierce County Professional Firefighters Local 726.
According to the union, 58 of the 60 Graham firefighters it represents cast a no-confidence vote against Baskett over dissatisfaction with a rising injury rate among firefighters the last four years, contract negotiations between the union and the district that required mediation, and management-employee relations.
Union leaders asked the commissioners in a letter Jan. 9 for an investigation of the union members’ complaints. Later in January, the commissioners hired Prothman Company to conduct a third-party review. At the time the review was ordered, Baskett said he welcomed the study and believed it would exonerate him.
The subsequent report was reviewed privately by the commissioners in a meeting March 15, followed by their decision to fire Baskett. A severance agreement between Baskett and the commissioners reportedly was reached last week.
The commissioners have begun the process of replacing Baskett. They conducted public interviews Friday of three applicants for an appointment as interim chief. Commissioner Ryan Portman said an interim choice, which wasn’t announced, will serve during the process of hiring a new chief. That could last four to six months, Portman said.
Baskett was the chief since 2013.
(Read more in the April 19 print edition of The Dispatch)