Civil Service: city gets allegations against N.I. fire chief

NEW IBERIA, La. (AP) - The city's civil service board decided it
isn't up to investigating allegations that the fire chief and
assistant chief lied and tampered with witnesses.
The Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board voted
five-to-zero to send the matter to New Iberia Mayor Hilda Curry, on
grounds that a trained investigator -- a police officer, for
instance -- is more qualified to look into the allegations.
Bourque and Broussard are accused of misconduct after
firefighters were subpoenaed as witnesses for the appeal of Gilbert
Viator, who was suspended without pay for 24 hours in December
after he crashed his fire truck into a car.
He contended that the penalty was unfair because other
firefighters weren't suspended after accidents.
While the board upheld Viator's suspension, some board members
expressed concern about Bourque's and Broussard's distribution of
privacy forms designed to keep Viator from access to other
firefighters' personnel files.
One firefighter testified that Broussard asked him "five or six
times" to sign the form, and that he finally agreed to sign it
during a meeting in Bourque's office.
Broussard later testified that he asked the firefighter to sign
the form only twice.
Viator said the forms were an effort to withhold information
from the board. Bourque said they were designed to spare
firefighters the embarrassment of having their past accidents made
public.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

APTV 08-20-05 2132EDT