Jerusalem Township trustees delay decision on terminating fire chief

Stanton allowed non-firefighters to participate in emergency calls.


Harold Stanton's position as Jerusalem Township fire chief remains in limbo tonight after township trustees delayed a decision whether to terminate him for allegedly allowing at least one non-firefighter to participate in emergency calls.

Mr. Stanton remains on paid leave pending a hearing scheduled for 2 p.m., March 19. He had been suspended earlier this month over allegations that he let township resident Jim Gray, who is not on the fire department, remain at the scene at about four emergency situations.

At issue is whether Mr. Gray's appearance at scenes is a liability to the township. The trustees expressed concern that not only is it potentially dangerous to Mr. Gray, but that it violates Ohio law.

Township trustees trustees Joe Kiss, David Bench and Ron Sheahan, held a public hearing tonight that lasted almost three hours, and was standing room only. About 75 residents attended, some speaking in support of one side or the other.

After the hearing, the trustees recessed to make a decision, but chose after a 30-minute discussion to hold off for a week before making a decision, said township attorney John Borell.

Trustees said Mr Stanton had been verbally warned of the issue twice before, in 2011 and last year. 

Chief Stanton said during the hearing that he had told Mr. Gray in the past not to show up at emergency scenes, but that he cannot continually monitor who appears at the scenes and who does not when he is reacting to an emergency.

Chief Stanton was in the news in July, 2010, when he took charge of the scene at an industrial roof collapse in Fremont in which a worker was killed and another trapped under debris for four hours. The chief was in command as part of the Northwest Ohio Region 1 Collapse Search and Rescue Team, which was established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.