ABC21 Digging Deeper: Fire chief under fire

Is it a public safety concern or a petty fight between local candidates?

ABC21 is Digging Deeper into claims the St. Joseph Township Fire Chief – who is running for trustee – isn’t qualified to do his current job. The chief says the only thing his opponent is worried about is winning the election.

Carol Griffin is running uncontested as a Democrat for trustee of St. Joseph Township. But she has concerns about her Republican opponent – the Township Fire Chief David Ringer

"He needs to be qualified for the job he is doing for St. Joseph Township," says Griffin. 

She says right now Ringer is not qualified. That’s because the fire chief is not certified as an emergency medical service tech or responder. 

Griffin filed a public record request and discovered St. Joe Township Fire Rescue responded to more than 540 calls last year – of that, 396 required EMS or 73 percent of calls.

"It’s not funny Dave," says Griffin. "Clean up your act."

"I am going into my sixth year as fire chief and it has not really been an issue until the election," responded Chief David Ringer.

Ringer says Griffin’s concerns are really an act of revenge on behalf of her friend, who she listed on her application for fire department chaplain as a reference back in 2013.

"Her reference number one is Rob Grayless," said Ringer.

Robert Grayless served as the former division chief of EMS for St. Joe Township. In 2016, he was convicted for pocketing $7,000 from CPR classes he taught. Ringer arrested Grayless, after he realized the fees collected for a class didn’t match the number of people taking the class.

"I think it just shows some of the character behind my opponent," says Ringer. "It’s obviously a mudslinging competition at this point, and I’ll be honest with you, I refuse to engage in it."
    
I asked Griffin if she’s bringing this up as a way to get back for what happened to Grayless. Her response?

"The truth is the truth is the truth," replied Griffin. 

Indiana state law does not require an EMS certification for fire chiefs. Should it? We’ll explore that part of the story Thursday as we continue to Dig Deeper.

Chief Ringer is running against current trustee Sarah Gnagy and Fort Wayne firefighter union head Jeremy Bush for the Republican nomination. 

The primary is next month, Tuesday, May 8th. 

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