(Full audio of the confrontation below)
A Tulsa firefighter who was chewed out, threatened and unsuccessfully baited to fight by Fire Chief Ray Driskell is coming forward and calling for the mayor to investigate and suspend the chief.
This is the same Fire Chief that recently drew national outrage for ordering the removal of all pro-police ‘Thin Blue Line’ stickers from emergency vehicles.
Chief Driskell is now facing the possible suspension after audio recordings surfaced of the unpopular chief profanely chewing out firefighter Nicholas Gillesepie over a grievance that letter resulted in a demotion of the firefighter, according to attorney Joel LaCourse, who is representing Gillespie.
“At the request of my client -given everything going on with the chief- it’s time to stand up,’” LaCourse said. “We have a mayor who is making amazing decisions and doing so from a platform that I think wouldn’t tolerate this.”
Tulsa Fire Department Spokesman Stan May says the matter is a department issue and would not give any further details.
“The only statement he (Driskell) has got is that he hasn’t had a chance to review the tape,” May said. “And even if he had, he couldn’t comment because it’s a personnel issue.”
Union firefighters are permitted to file grievances if they feel their contract has been violated. The grievance then can go to court-like arbitration if the situation is not remedied. That taken into account, an arbitration hearing has been scheduled for Gillespie’s case.
A statement released on Thursday alleges several violations by Driskell as well.
“Chief Driskell not only invited Mr. Gillespie to try and ‘tear his ass’ but ‘wished he would try’ and do so,” the statement says. “This berating occurred at a time when Chief Driskell was in possession of a Glock handgun.”
“Chief Driskell must be held accountable to his staff and the public for the way he treats the most valuable asset of any organization, but especially our Tulsa Fire Department, its men and women,” LaCourse said in the statement. “We ask Mayor Bynum to immediately suspend Chief Driskell and begin an investigation to uncover the disgraceful manner in which the chief treats our firefighters.”
According to the Tulsa World, the statement noted that Driskell did not have the required training or CLEET certification that is required for positions under him such as fire marshals and fire investigators who may be authorized to carry a weapon on duty.