CADILLAC — Cadillac is without a fire marshal following the termination of Anthony Wolff.
Wolff pleaded no contest to domestic violence in March. The charges were issued in Missaukee County and Wolff was not expected to serve jail time.
The city says he brought disrepute to the department and terminated his position shortly thereafter.
The International Association of Firefighters have been fighting that decision.
"The firefighters union is taking this issue to arbitration because a firefighter was unjustly terminated," said Chris Koontz, president of Local 704 in Cadillac. "It is our job to ensure that the city follows the rules and processes that it agreed to when it comes to discipline and that it does so fairly. The city did not in this case, forcing no other option but for us to seek an arbitrator to intervene in the matter."
The city and the union are slated to go into arbitration regarding Wolff's job in November, according to City Manager Marcus Peccia.
In the meantime, the city has been without a fire marshal.
While Public Safety Director Adam Ottjepka has certifications as fire investigator, the city would likely refer any suspicious fires to State Police, due to the time involved in fire investigations and Ottjepka's other duties, he told the Cadillac News.
Firefighters are trained to put out fires and determine whether the cause was suspicious; if it is, that's when the department would call State Police for assistance.
The fire marshal in Cadillac also monitors fire-related ordinances in the city.
That can mean inspecting new buildings or rental buildings to be sure that egress and entryways are the right size and sprinkler systems are sufficient.
For now, "we're going to contract those services out to, to a private contractor," Ottjepka said.
But it hasn't really been an issue, Ottjepka indicated. Wolff was terminated near the beginning of the pandemic; since COVID-19, much of the duties typically fulfilled by a fire marshal have slowed to a crawl.
"The guys have been stepping up," when tasks do arise, Ottjepka said.
Not all fire marshals are trained in both ordinances and arson investigation, but Wolff is.
Ottjepka said he didn't know when or if the city will post a job for a new fire marshal; it depends on the results of arbitration and whether Wolff is re-instated.