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Mich. fire chief suspended after liability issues

Officials said Chief Jason Keller put the township at risk by allowing bystanders, including an ousted fire chief, to assist during a fire

By FireRescue1 Staff

IRA TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A fire chief was suspended during a special board meeting this week.

The Times Herald reported that Ira Township Fire Chief Jason Keller was placed on administrative leave after alleged liability issues occurred during a structure fire. The board meeting was initially called with a motion to terminate Chief Keller from his position.

“His sole focus right now is getting back to work and helping the residents of the community,” Peter Camps, Chief Keller's attorney, said. “That is the one and only desire right now.”

Zlate’s Place, a local Italian restaurant, caught fire earlier this month. Chief Keller said firefighters from other agencies arrived on scene to help. Recently ousted Chief Daryl DuPage, who is currently involved in a wrongful termination lawsuit, was among those who helped extinguish the fire.

Supervisor Bob McCoy claimed DuPage's help put “the township in harm’s way for liability.”

“They helped set that scene up with nobody else there. If they did not help me set that scene up, that scene would have been tremendously worse,” Chief Keller said at the meeting. “I took an oath to preserve property and preserve the public and personnel that live in this township. We’re here for a public service. Why is it because of one specific individual that we’re here today? We have had countless bystanders, numerous times, stop at a fire scene and assist.”

McCoy maintained that the issue wasn’t due to DuPage's presence. He said the bystanders weren't covered by insurance and had no protective gear on.

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