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Firefighters lose jobs over sexual misconduct

SALISBURY — The investigation into sexual misconduct at the Salisbury Fire Department has led to the termination of two employees, with two more — including the East Spencer fire chief — drawing demotions and suspensions.
Fired are engineer Tim Grisham and firefighter Chet Hedrick.
Hedrick was suspended for two weeks early last year during the city’s 2011 investigation into sexual misconduct in the department, which led to three terminations.
Suspended and demoted as of today are Shawn McBride, demoted from captain to engineer, and Jeremy Carter, demoted to a lower grade of firefighter. Both will take a pay cut.
McBride also serves as the fire chief in East Spencer. In 2011, he was awarded Veteran Firefighter of the Year.
McBride has been suspended from the Salisbury department for five 24-hour shifts. Carter has been suspended for three 24-hour shifts.
Dismissal and disciplinary letters that are much more specific than those released after the 2011 investigation include the following details:
• Grisham was fired for “sexual activity while at work.”
“Employee advised supervisor that he was involved in inappropriate conduct while at work. Employee also shared inappropriate photo with other staff members,” Fire Chief Bob Parnell wrote.
Grisham also was terminated for sexual harassment.
“All employees are prohibited from any conduct that is sexually harassing or which may create an offensive work environment,” Parnell wrote. “Employee admitted to supervisor and another employee that he had been involved in an inappropriate relationship.”
Grisham also lied, Parnell said.
“When asked about the relationship, employee was not truthful with the fire chief,” he wrote.
Grisham had been disciplined in October 2011, according to the letter, and was told that any future disciplinary action could lead to dismissal.
• Hedrick also was fired for “sexual activity while at work.”
“Employee received inappropriate pictures and shared with other staff members,” Parnell wrote. “This was the second incident of misconduct. The previous incident occurred in January 2011, at which time you were suspended.”
Hedrick failed to report information related to a potentially inappropriate relationship that could have resulted in a sexual harassment claim, Parnell said.
Hedrick lied as well, Parnell said.
“When asked about the photo you received, you stated you were not sure about the identity of the person and that was why you did not inform your superiors of the situation,” the letter said. “While interviewing another staff member later, they confirmed that you shared the photo with them and knew the identity of the person in the photo.”
• McBride was demoted and suspended for failing to follow sexual harassment reporting procedures.
He did not report potentially inappropriate activity that could have resulted in a sexual harassment claim, Parnell said.
• Carter was disciplined for sexual activity misconduct, as well as for failing to follow sexual harassment reporting procedures.
“Employee received inappropriate picture and failed to report the activity of sharing the inappropriate photo at work,” Parnell wrote. “… Employee failed to report potential inappropriate activity that could have resulted in a sexual harassment claim.
After the 2011 investigation, Battalion Chief Chris Lyerly, Capt. Baxter “Buddy” Miller and firefighter Courtney Brown were all dismissed from the department.
Miller continues to work for the Granite Quarry Fire Department.
Salisbury officials say the current investigation is ongoing.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.


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