Mutiny at the Firehouse, Part I: Hired to be fired?

The mayor hired a fire chief to captain a tight ship — then fired him after his “sailors” mutinied. (More on that, in a later post.) The court order ruling in former Ocean Shores Fire Chief David Bathke’s favor after he was booted by Mayor Crystal Dingler — who hired him, less than two years earlier — includes a “Findings of Fact” section that provides background:

“On March 4, 2017, Plaintiff David Bathke applied for a job as Fire Chief for the City of Ocean Shores….. Prior to being hired, Bathke had several conversations with the Mayor. The Mayor explained that the City’s fire department faced multiple challenges as it has been without a fire chief for a number of months. These challenges included excessive overtime, operating over budget, the City needed to save the positions of seven of its full-time fire fighters, the crew needed to be held accountable, they needed to bring in new digitized record management systems, they needed new safety training, they needed to obtain new equipment, and they needed to negotiate a new union contract. 

“When Bathke interviewed with the City of Ocean Shores, Mayor Dingler had two internal applicants apply for the fire chief position but she did not hire from within. Mayor Dingler testified that she wanted to hire a strong leader to handle these challenges. Bathke was concerned about job security when he was seeking employment at Ocean Shores. He was 56 years old and would be moving from Arizona to Washington and the changes he would be making may not be popular. He told members of the interview panel which included Mayor Dingler that “this is it” for him and agreed to commit to 10 years as fire chief…”

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