The Herald Bulletin

March 10, 2014

Battalion chief's demotion for 90 days, not permanent

Firefighter required to complete management class

By Ken de la Bastide The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON – Battalion Chief Eric Hutchison’s demotion to the rank of private last week by the Anderson Board of Public Safety was for 90 days.

As part of the condition of the demotion, Hutchison has to successfully complete a management training course before he can be reinstated.

When the Safety Board announced last Thursday that it upheld the Fire Department’s disciplinary action against Hutchison for conduct unbecoming of an officer, it didn’t mention in the findings of fact that the demotion was for 90 days.

“Eric believes it is important that the public and the Fire Department are informed that his demotion from battalion chief to private is not permanent,” Hutchison’s attorney Mike Austin, said Monday. “After Eric successfully completes management training, and after 90 days has expired, Eric will be reinstated to the position of battalion chief.

“Eric has had extensive training in fighting fires, but has had no formal training in managing people,” Austin said. “Eric views the Safety Board’s decision as a good opportunity to improve his leadership skills, and better serve the citizens of Anderson when he returns to his position as battalion chief.”

During a closed hearing on Feb. 21 board members heard testimony from Chief Phillip Rogers, Assistant Chief Brent Holland, Assistant Chief Todd Jordan, Hutchison and two firefighters.

The Safety Board in the findings of fact determined that by a preponderance and credible evidence that the behavior of Hutchison was in violation of department rules.

The disciplinary action was based on inappropriate comments and touching of firefighters under his command.

Hutchison, a veteran of the Anderson Fire Department, received a heroism award in 2009 for saving a woman from a burning house.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.