Fired firefighter wants chance to be heard

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Fired firefighter wants chance to be heard

By Steve Chamraz and Cody Holyoke. CREATED Oct 22, 2013 - UPDATED: Oct 23, 2013

MILWAUKEE - A probationary firefighter terminated after he was named in an internal investigation insists he did nothing wrong and wants a chance to get his job back.

Nathan Fager was one of nine firefighters suspended October 1 as the Milwaukee Fire Department launched an investigation into the vandalism of Engine 32, Ladder 9.
As a probationary or "cub" firefighter, Fager realizes the Milwaukee Fire Department had absolute authority to fire him at any time with no explanation. But Fager said that also means Chief Mark Rohlfing can look at his decision again and come to a different conclusion.
"He also has the ability to change his mind. The discretion to, you know, overturn a decision he made," Fager said in an interview at his home Tuesday evening.
Fager and his wife have gathered nearly 1,000 signatures on paper and online petitions. They hope to present those names and testimonials to the Chief and ask for a fair hearing.
He would not talk about what happened in the firehouse on the September Saturday the vandalism was alleged to have happened, but Fager insists he was merely a witness. A witness, he said, who has co-operated completely.
Though, so far, no one leading the probe of Engine 32 has asked for his version of happened.
"I just feel like I was a scapegoat for them. I'm an easy termination for them to show they mean business," he said.
Wednesday, MFD's chief confirmed two firefighters have opted for retirement instead of facing an investigation.

"It wasn't a matter of allowing them to retire. They chose to go. They have their time and years of service, and they can make the decision for themselves," Mark Rohlfing told TODAY'S TMJ4.

Rohlfing also confirmed investigators did not speak to Nathan Fager about the vandalism at Engine 32.
In a statement released at the time of Fager's firing, Chief Rohlfing said he has the ultimate authority over the employment of probationary firefighters and the terminations were not connected to the investigation.
Calls to the Chief and other department command staff made Tuesday were not answered.