(Richmond, IN)--Former Richmond Fire Chief Jerry Purcell on Sunday night presented his version of his abrupt removal from that position earlier this month. Purcell had planned to retire next May. Richmond Mayor Dave Snow told a different local publication that the change involving Purcell did not involve anything but a process of transition. Purcell’s account differs greatly. Here is Purcell's statement - issued Sunday night - in its entirety:
Open Letter to the Citizens of Richmond, Indiana The recent news releases from the Richmond Mayor's office concerning my December 6 abrupt dismissal as the Richmond Fire Chief lead me to release a statement in my own words. Many conversations floating across social media, telephone calls to myself, as well as close friends, have covered everything from my health to other implausible reasons for my unintended exit as Fire Chief. My intention was always to retire in May of 2023 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 years. It is a grave error for anyone to insinuate that I would willingly leave five months early as Richmond's Fire Chief. Those lost five months would have been used to tie up loose ends on grants, projects and an issue special to my heart, the finalization of a merit system for the promotion of chief officers. A final report to City Council, as well as the citizens of Richmond, is now a moot question. The timeline went like this. On November 28th, I was summoned to Mayor Snow's office. Mayor Snow asserted that I was not a team player based on two recent incidents. The first was my response to city council members' questions regarding pay for part-time members of our EMS staff. Secondly, the Mayor was displeased with my November 25th supportive face book posts reflecting my dismay over the seeming lack of attention by the City toward the plight of our downtown merchants, especially during Thanksgiving weekend. Large machinery and blockades created a shopper's navigation nightmare and greatly inhibited any traffic flow, much less easy walking access. I had earlier brought this downtown situation to the Mayor's attention at our department head meeting on November 21st. One might also note that I am a member of The Main Street Board. At first it was suggested that I could remain in my position as Fire Chief until the end of the year and that I would agree to a joint statement reflecting a voluntary departure from the Chief's rank coordinated with the Mayor's announcement. At a later scheduled meeting with the Mayor on December 1st or December 2nd, I notified the Mayor that I would not coordinate a statement with him as that would be starting the next phase of my life based on false information. On December 6, 2022, I was again summoned to the Mayor's office. He reiterated his intention to remove me as Chief of the Richmond Fire Department. After that December 6 meeting, I was then informed by the same email sent to all city employees that I was no longer Richmond's Fire Chief. I have always known, as do all city department heads, that I serve at the pleasure of the Mayor. It has been my honor and privilege to carry out my duties to the citizens of Richmond as your Fire Chief.