Licking County News

Fire chief appeals second firing


David Fulmer's attorneys filed an appeal July 15 in Licking County Common Pleas Court to the West Licking Joint Fire District board's July 10 decision to fire the chief a second time.

"It is eerily similar to the 2012 case," said David "Chip" Comstock, an attorney who has represented Fulmer since the case began in 2012.

Fulmer, 44, first was fired Nov. 8, 2012, but won an appeal when Judge Thomas Marcelain ruled April 18, 2013, in Licking County Common Pleas Court that the board fired Fulmer without proving him guilty of wrongdoing.

Marcelain ordered Fulmer had to be reinstated but declined to require the fire district to issue Fulmer back pay.

The 5th District Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling Jan. 9.

The fire board voted Feb. 13 to reinstate Fulmer but immediately put him on paid administrative leave, pending another investigation. Fulmer, who was hired in 2009, made $98,800 a year.

After the investigation and a public hearing, the board voted July 10 to fire Fulmer again.

Comstock said the 2012 appeal claimed that Fulmer's constitutional rights were violated during the first hearing and the board had insufficient evidence to fire him. He said Marcelain's ruling in 2013 did not consider the constitutional rights issue.

Comstock said he hopes Judge David Branstool, who will review the appeal this time, will consider both claims.

Comstock also confirmed that Fulmer filed an appeal to have his back pay June 25 reinstated.

Comstock said Fulmer worked in a sales job after being fired the first time. He is seeking $50,000, which would make up the difference in what he would have earned if he had been earning his salary as fire chief.

Assistant Fire Chief Ken Mathews served as acting chief from 2012 to May 23, 2014, when he retired. Assistant Fire Chief Todd Magers has served as acting chief since May 24.