Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
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INDEPENDENCE, La. -The Independence Fire Department is operating in uncertain times these days.They have a temporary chief, and have only been guided by a new board of leaders for eight months.Now, a potential legal battle is brewing involving David Maurer, who says he feels like he's been set up.
'And the reason I'm going to tell you is I have been battling with the Town of Independence for six of my firefighters' comp time.'
Maurer, who was fired as chief last week, said his termination was unfair, illegal and purely political.
He said 'The mayor has stated that he does not want me to be fire chief, and if I was, no matter what the outcome of this investigation would have been, that he was pulling funding from the fire department.'
The chairman of the board that oversees hiring and firing here said he had no comment for this story.But the mayor says these allegations are absurd.
Mike Ragusa said, 'I've never threatened anybody; I don't have the authority to do that.'
Mayor Ragusa says Independence has been suffering because Maurer simply wasn't doing a good job, including losing manpower, not maintaining vehicles properly and mismanaging money.
'I don't want the Town of Independence to lose its fire rating,' Ragusa said, 'I don't want the parish to lose its fire rating, and anytime you lose a fire rating, you go up to four or five and insurance rates go up and I just don't want that for the people in the Town of Independence'
Maurer says the financial situation he inherited is behind those issues and he has dozens of documents proving the claims have no merit. He just wants his job back to continue to work on them.The city says it just wants to keep a good quality fire service.
Maurer hopes to find a resolution before the next fire board meeting on the 26th, however, legal action is an option he is heavily considering.
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