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MailTribune.com
  • Former firefighter seeks thousands in damages

    No comment from Jacksonville fire chief; complaint alleges DeVries blew whistle, then was fired
  • JACKSONVILLE — A former city firefighter alleges he was terminated from his position because he brought attention to deficiencies and other problems within the department.
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  • JACKSONVILLE — A former city firefighter alleges he was terminated from his position because he brought attention to deficiencies and other problems within the department.
    Alan DeVries seeks up to $200,000 or other remedies in a complaint filed Jan. 29 in Jackson County Circuit Court. DeVries was hired by the department on March 5, 2012, and terminated Feb. 25, 2013.
    In the suit, DeVries makes allegations against Fire Chief Devon Hull and claims reports of deficiencies to supervisors were also a factor in his termination. Among the problems were: use of outdated and unsafe equipment; failure to maintain appropriate staffing with qualified personnel at all times; a lack of training programs, a strategic plan and regular evaluations for firefighters; falsifying of time sheets, inappropriate sale of city equipment, and inappropriate cellphone use and Internet surfing by Hull; and discrepancies in city fuel purchase records for the Fire Department.
    Contacted by phone, Hull declined to comment on the allegations.
    Medford attorney Matthew Sutton, who represents DeVries, said last week he had no comment on the case.
    Jacksonville City Administrator Jeff Alvis also declined to comment.
    Citycounty Insurance Services of Oregon is the city's insurer and has not yet named an attorney in the matter, Alvis said.
    DeVries had served with a fire district in Washington state and with Jackson County Fire District No. 3 before he was hired by the city, according to other media sources. He has an associate's degree in fire science. He was within his probationary period when terminated.
    Hull advised DeVries that "he just did not fit in" during a Feb. 25, 2013, meeting in which Hull fired DeVries, according to the complaint. An evaluation report and performance review were given to him at that time, the first he received during his tenure.
    According to the complaint, DeVries' experience exceeded most of those in the department in many critical aspects. The department has three supervising captains, a part-time firefighter, volunteers and interns, in addition to the chief.
    DeVries asserts in the complaint that he made many positive contributions, including obtaining replacement equipment under warranty, serving as a liaison with District 3, securing a grant for detection equipment and enhancing the volunteer and intern programs.
    DeVries seeks $33,000 for lost income and benefits as of Jan. 29. He's asked for $100,000 for stress, anxiety, sleeplessness and embarrassment. He also seeks reinstatement to his position and an injunction against the city and Hull that prohibits retaliation or discrimination because of the allegations.
    As an alternative to reinstatement and the other financial considerations, DeVries seeks $200,000. He has asked for a jury trial.
    Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.
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