Fairfax Co. fire chief announces retirement amidst dept. harassment allegations

By FireRescue1 Staff

FAIRFAX, Va. — A fire chief announced his retirement shortly after refusing to resign when the department was accused of harassing female firefighters.

NBC Washington reported that Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Chief Richard Bowers will effectively retire April 30, after Battalion Chief Kathleen Stanley resigned from the department and claimed her role as the women’s program organizer was ineffective in trying to improve things for women in the department.

"There is not a major cultural issue in our department," Chief Bowers said after Stanley’s resignation.

The announcement also came after the husband of firefighter Nicole Mittendorf, who died by suicide after lewd comments were allegedly made about her on a blog by fellow firefighters, called for Bowers' retirement due to a lack of progress in changing the environment.

Chief Bowers claimed the department had made changes, “such as implementing the women’s retention strategies, including a job share pilot program.”

Fairfax County issued a statement saying they plan to address the allegations while transitioning to a new chief.

“There is still much work to be done and addressing these issues remains a priority for the county,” County Executive Bryan Hill said. “The upcoming change in leadership will not impact our efforts.”

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