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Flint fire chief says he was fired; city won't give reason for his departure

Former Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton (file photo)
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Former Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton (file photo)

Flint’s fire chief told multiple media outlets he has been fired, just days before a lawsuit is expected to be filed claiming "gross negligence" in the deaths of two boys from a house fire in May.

Two firefighters failed to find the boys during the initial search of the home. They were found unconscious by a second team of firefighters between 8 to 16 minutes after the initial “all-clear” was declared.

The boys died days later from smoke inhalation.

Attorney Todd Flood represents the family planning to sue the city. He cites the now-former Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton’s report on the incident calling for the two firefighters to be fired, in which the chief accused the firemen of “complete indifference and dereliction of duty.”

“My hat goes off to the chief, the fire chief, because he called it as he saw it. And he said specifically, what and how they failed and how they manipulated documents,” said Flood.

Flood said he is waiting on expert reports before he files his amended lawsuit in circuit court in Flint. He expects to file next week.

On Thursday, the city of Flint released a brief statement announcing Raymond Barton was no longer Flint’s fire chief:

“We’re proud to announce that former Flint Fire Chief Theron Wiggins will serve as the Interim Fire Chief for the City of Flint as we continue to move our great city forward. The City of Flint would like to thank Fire Chief Raymond Barton for his decades of service to this community.”

A mayor’s office spokeswoman declined to give a reason for Chief Barton's departure and would not say whether he had been fired.

Barton had served as Flint’s fire chief since 2016, when he was appointed to the post by former Mayor Karen Weaver.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.