Plainfield fire chief demoted months after filing lawsuit
PLAINFIELD — The fire department chief who filed a lawsuit earlier this year claiming the city was trying to force him out has been demoted, while another veteran firefighter has been named acting chief.
Deputy Chief Michael McCue was named acting Chief on Friday. McCue replaces Frank Tidwell. The change in command came because unspecified actions taken by Tidwell "compromised the integrity" of the department and the city, according to a release from the city.
"In order to protect, and act in the best interest of our Plainfield residents, appropriate charges were filed and ultimately upheld by an independent hearing office," the release said. "Unfortunately, additional details cannot be shared at this time as we place a high level of value on the privacy of our employees."
Tidwell filed his lawsuit against the city six months ago, according to an article in MyCentralJersey.com. At the time he said there was a "conspiracy to oust the fire chief by bringing him up on various charges," that he claimed were created by another chief. The other chief he cited was former Deputy Chief Jeffrey Courtney, who received a settlement of more than $400,000 for a lawsuit he filed against the city, according to the website.
Courtney's lawsuit also named Tidwell as a defendant, claiming that "Tidwell made it clear that he does not want a white person to take the position of chief upon his retirement," the website said.
Acting Chief McCue has been with the department for 40 years, and has been Deputy Chief for five years, according to the city. He is also a volunteer member of the Plainfield Rescue Squad, and has been a member of the South Plainfield Fire Department.
As of Sunday Morning Tidwell was still listed as the department's chief on the city's website. McCue is listed as one of the department's four deputy chiefs, and the head of the Fire Enforcement/Prevention bureau.