Ohio Township Fire Chief Fired

The Northfield Center Township fire chief was fired after township trustees presented 18 charges against him, saying the chief did his job poorly.

The trustees charged Chief Robert Derrit with removing the partner of a firefighter from a burning structure, while leaving the other firefighter in the building, forcing her to get out on her own.

Derrit said he never instructed the firefighter to enter the house, saying she entered on her own.

But the township trustees said they had plenty of evidence to support their decision.

"We heard from no less than 27 firefighters in written form indicating their displeasure with things going on, but particularly the morale problem," said Trustee Paul Buescher.

There were several other complaints against Derrit, including a delayed response to a fire while Derrit ran a personal errand.

In a public hearing, the 18 charges were leveled at Derrit, who was then fired.

Derrit was a Cleveland firefighter for 28 years and retired in 1998, following a short time as Cleveland's acting fire chief.

Township officials contend that residents' safety is not in jeopardy.

"We have our own staff people 24 hours a day. Nothing has changed except for the chief's position," said Lt. Frank Risko, of the Northfield Center Fire Department.

Derrit disputed the charges and blamed his dismissal on Buescher. Derrit contended that Buescher would not meet with him to discuss staffing and other fire department issues.

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