Del. fire chief demotion, early pension sparks union outcry

The fire union president calls it a “slap in the face” to the department, others say he earned the deal

By FireRescue1 Staff

WILMINGTON, Del. — An embattled fire chief was demoted to senior firefighter, which will allow him to clock in additional months so he can collect an early pension. 

In order to be eligible to collect an early pension, former Wilmington Fire Chief Anthony Goode, 43, must work another five months. He will be placed on a special assignment when he returns from vacation this spring, reported the Delaware Online. He will not work in fire suppression. 

Chief Goode’s pension agreement entitles him to half of his salary, as well as benefits; he earned nearly $110,000 dollars last year. The early pension comes nearly two decades ahead of the standard pension age of 62. 

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki’s decision to grant Chief Goode early pension has been met with some criticism.

"I am well aware that the former chief has his critics, and some of them do not like the decision I have made," Purzycki said. "The former chief and I do not see eye to eye on the administration of the fire service, and that is why I made a change in command. But, those matters aside, I am comfortable that this decision is in the best interests of the city and of Anthony Goode and his family which includes his father who was a firefighter who died in the line of duty.”

Fire union president Kevin Turner said the decision is a “slap in the face” to the department, which has in the last months lost three firefighters in the line of duty and struggled with staffing stations. 

"They'll keep an engine closed every day but find money for a former chief that terrorized his men and women and brought morale to the lowest point in the history of the department," Turner said.

In March 2016, the union sent the city a letter of no confidence in regards to Chief Goode, and requested his removal. 

Others say the move is a fair one. 

“Honestly, the guy committed over 19 years of his life to the city of Wilmington,” councilman Bob Williams, a former firefighter, said. “He doesn’t deserve a death sentence because he’s no longer the chief.”

The union said it intends to contest Chief Goode’s retention. 

"We will take whatever action we feel is appropriate to resolve this issue up to and including a lawsuit if that’s warranted," Turner said.

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