NORTH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – North Las Vegas’s fire chief, who was placed on leave three weeks go, no longer works for the city, officials said Monday.
Chief Al Gillespie served as chief for more than seven years. City Manager Tim Hacker said Gillespie’s being placed on leave was a result of an investigation into a training accident in January that injured four firefighters, none seriously.
But union officials, who have been battling with Hacker and city leaders over budget issues, said Gillespie was being punished for not supporting Hacker’s budget cuts. Firefighters union Jeff Hurley did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday.
Late Monday afternoon, the city issued a news release saying only that “Gillespie’s employment with the city has come to an end.” There was no explanation, other than that it was a “personnel matter” and confidential.
Gillespie has not spoken publicly. Reached Monday, he said he was not yet ready to talk but expected to be soon.
Hacker did not return phone calls Monday afternoon seeking more details.
City spokeswoman Juliet Casey said she was not authorized to say whether Gillespie left the city voluntarily or whether he had no say in the matter. In other words, she wouldn’t say whether he quit or he was fired. She pointed to the language in the news release. “That’s all I’m authorized to say,” she said.
Previously, city officials have refused to say whether anyone else was disciplined because of the training accident. A report issued by an outside investigator cited shoddy planning and a lack of communication as possible causes of the incident.
The training event was hosted by the North Las Vegas Fire Department and included firefighters from Las Vegas and Clark County. Shortly afterward, Las Vegas voided an agreement it had made with North Las Vegas to share firefighter training.
North Las Vegas Assistant Chief Tim Sendelbach is in charge of training for the department and has been since before the incident. Casey said Sendelbach has not been placed on administrative leave because of the training accident. She would not say whether he had been disciplined at all.
With Gillespie’s departure, Assistant Chief Jeff Buchanan will remain acting chief until a new chief is found.
Casey said when a search will be launched is undetermined.