Fire official whose certificate lapsed is suspended

Jesse Tinsley
Plain Dealer Reporter

Beachwood- A veteran Fire Department lieutenant accused of letting his emergency medical technician certificate lapse six years ago has been suspended and charged with dereliction of duty.
Fire Lt. Kenneth A. Taylor, 48, who joined the Beachwood Fire Department in 1978, was also charged with two counts of working without certification.
"The moment we were notified that Lt. Taylor didn't have a current EMT certificate, we placed him immediately on paid, administrative leave," said Beachwood Law Director Margaret Cannon.
Mayor Merle Gorden ordered that the three misdemeanor charges be filed against Taylor, who once was second in command of the Fire Department, saying that Taylor misrepresented his qualifications to fellow firefighters and residents.
"This breach of trust is unacceptable," Cannon said. "Beachwood residents deserve a safety force with the latest state-of-the-art training and certification."
EMT certification is required of all firefighters, Cannon said, adding that Taylor was the only one of 33 full-time firefighters working without the certificate.
Taylor's attorney, Caryn Groedel, said that her client denies the allegations and that the charges are retaliatory.
"We believe that when the facts come to light, he will be exonerated," she said. "I think this is a political hot potato." She declined to elaborate.
In April Taylor was demoted from captain to lieutenant after failing to properly handle command of a fire, Cannon said.
The city launched an investigation after another lieutenant noticed that Taylor's certificate expired in 1996. EMT certificates must be renewed every three years through classes or exams.
Taylor's administrative disciplinary hearing has been scheduled for Monday. A trial on the criminal charges has been set for Jan. 7 in Shaker Heights Municipal Court.
Taylor faces a maximum $1,100 fine and up to five months in jail.