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Chief Raymond Barton makes startling statement following his firing

Featured photo: Longtime Fire Chief Raymond Barton spills his heart about how he feels about the Pulaski Street fire and how he feels about been fired. Photo by Tanya Terry.

Written by Tanya Terry

After Mayor Sheldon Neeley issued a statement informing the public former Flint Fire Chief Theron Wiggins will serve as the Interim Fire Chief for the City of Flint, longtime Fire Chief Raymond Barton had a press conference about his firing.

In late May, 12-year-old Zyaire Mitchell and 9-year-old Lamar Mitchell died tragically following a house fire.

At the recent press conference, Barton talked about how former firefighters Daniel Sniegocki and Michael Zlotek described their actions in detail when reporting searching all the other rooms in the house. However, when reporting on their search of the room the children were found unconscious in, they were much briefer. They simply reported one firefighter went to the left and one went to the right. Barton talked at the press conference about how the firefighters later admitted all of what they’d reported was not true.

Barton’s original recommendation was the termination of the firefighters for falsifying their reports, but he was overruled. After a period of suspension, one firefighter was allowed to resign. The other was allowed to keep his job but later resigned.

“My story was the same in May as it was in November,” Barton stated. “When you try to make me say something different, you can’t do that.”

Barton said when he was called into the mayor’s office, he was told he could resign or they could “take a different direction.”

“I said I’m not resigning; I’m not letting you off that easy,” explained Barton.

Barton asked what he had done as far as his job performance.

“Then he started talking about morale.”

Barton made a powerful statement that has triggered controversy nationwide.

“I’m fired because, I feel, I wouldn’t lie about the incident on Pulaski.”

An emotion-stirring press conference was held following a fire from which two children were killed on Pulaski Street, in Flint. Photo by Jameca Patrick-Singleton

Barton stated that although there was an “all clear” the kids remained in the house for over six minutes after the “all clear” was made.

Barton said one of the firefighters who later resigned, Sniegocki, asked why it was so important to admit he made a mistake in his report.

“I said if you can’t admit you made a mistake, that’s a problem, and that was one of the biggest reasons that I recommended termination. Two kids died and you can’t admit ‘I made a mistake?’”

Barton has accused the firemen of “complete indifference and dereliction of duty.”

Barton talked about how he had been like a father figure to many of the firefighters with the Flint Fire Department, particularly with some of the other Black males. He sacrificed time with his own family to do so. Barton served with the Flint Fire Department for over 34 years in total.

A lawsuit is expected to be filed very soon claiming “gross negligence” in the deaths of the young boys.

Some community members have questioned the timing of Barton’s firing, which happened shortly after a mayoral election.

Meanwhile, the City of Flint is maintaining its position that Barton’s firing had nothing to do with any sort of retaliation.

More information will follow!

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