Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former Zephyrhills fire marshal reinstated but demoted over sick leave dispute

ZEPHYRHILLS — Just over a month after being terminated for violating the city's sick leave policy, former Fire Marshal Kerry Barnett is back with the department he has worked for since 1988, but with a demotion to lieutenant.

City Manager Jim Drumm reinstated Barnett on Monday after the longtime firefighter asked him to review his case as part of a grievance process. Barnett returned to work at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Drumm said. While the reinstatement comes with all back pay and benefits lost during his termination period, the demotion comes with a 20 percent pay cut.

"I do understand this is not the outcome you had sought, but I do believe it to be fair," Drumm wrote in a four-page letter to Barnett explaining his decision. "I wish you the best in your new role" at Zephyrhills Fire Rescue.

Barnett, who in 2010 was named Florida Fire Marshal of the year, couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday. He has 10 days from Drumm's decision to file an appeal.

Fire Chief Keith Williams fired Barnett in February after determining that the fire marshal violated city policy by working a similar contract job for the town of St. Leo while he was out on sick leave from Zephyrhills.

Barnett suffered an off-duty foot injury last fall. A doctor's note said Barnett couldn't perform any firefighter duties, but he could perform some desk-related and fire-marshal functions. Zephyrhills policy, however, prohibits allowing light duty when the injury didn't occur on the job, so Barnett had to take about four weeks of sick leave.

Barnett continued to do mostly paperwork duties for St. Leo, where he has performed safety and fire inspector duties on a contract basis since May 2010. He has said he didn't realize he was violating city policy by continuing that work without the permission of Zephyrhills officials.

After a Feb. 23 grievance hearing before Williams, the fire chief denied Barnett's request to be put back on the job.

Williams also couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

While Drumm this week denied Barnett's claim that his union firefighter rights had been violated by the city when he wasn't properly notified about the investigation, the city manager said that Barnett's service to the city should have been taken into consideration when determining the discipline.

"I agreed with him that his years of service, his work performance and his relatively clear disciplinary record should have been taken into account," Drumm said. "I did choose to grant leniency on the prescribed discipline (termination) based on his record."

Former Zephyrhills fire marshal reinstated but demoted over sick leave dispute 03/20/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 8:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 17:  Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempts a pass during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  2. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire

    Criminal

    PORT RICHEY

    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, right, along with her mother Tranda Webb, 62, pose for a photograph Wednesday, at their home in Port Richey. Pasco's former boyfriend John Riggins doused Pasco with gasoline and set her on fire after an argument last year.. CHRIS URSO   |   Times

  3. Florida starter under center still under wraps

    College

    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.
  4. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  5. Rick Kriseman picks Floribbean restaurant for Manhattan Casino

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG— Mayor Rick Kriseman has chosen a controversial restaurant concept to occupy the Manhattan Casino, saying he made a decision 11 days before the mayoral primary because he didn't want politics to get in the way of progress in struggling Midtown.

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson speaks during a Friday press conference announcing that the Callaloo Group will open a Floribbean restraurant in the historic Manhattan Casino in St. Petersburg's Midtown neighborhood. Some residents were upset with Mayor Rick Kriseman's choice, saying it will speed up gentrification of the area. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]