BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Ex California City Fire Department Chief, Justin Vincent was released from his position with the department, on Tuesday.
Interim City Manager Bob Stockwell confirmed to 23ABC that Justin Vincent is no longer the Chief and was released as a probationary employee.
After being released 23ABC contacted Vincent's Lawyer and below is what he told us.
"Justin Vincent was hired by the City of California City as Fire Chief on May 2, 2017. As the Fire Chief, he was responsible for fire service administration, operations, code enforcement, and fire prevention. This included enforcement of the California State Fire Code.
Upon his appointment, Chief Vincent was tasked with working with Marijuana businesses seeking permits to build Marijuana cultivation facilities. Chief Vincent was pressured by City Officials to be more business friendly to Marijuana businesses and allow them to build Marijuana grow, extraction, and distribution buildings without meeting all of the requirements of the California State Fire Code. Chief Vincent reported the pressure to allow Fire Code violations for Marijuana businesses from City Officials and local Marijuana business owners/investors.
On July 25, 2017, Chief Vincent presented a Marijuana Impact Report to City Council, outlining the fire and safety dangers that are associated with the marijuana industry. He included recommendations for training, personnel, and resources needed to be able to safely serve these facilities based on local, county, state, federal, and international standards. City Council Members expressed concern that following Chief Vincent’s recommendations for safety measures would be too costly.
Following Chief Vincent’s report and refusal to allow exceptions to the Fire Code for marijuana businesses, he was subjected to retaliation by City Officials and Marijuana business owners/investors. Chief Vincent has always held fast that the Fire Code is in existence for the protection of the community and its first responders. He required that Marijuana businesses follow the same standards that would be applied to any other business to ensure public safety and enforcement of the Fire Code.
Because he continued to insist on enforcing the Fire Code and adhering to City policy and State law, Chief Vincent was unlawfully terminated by Interim City Manager Stockwell, who had held the interim City Manager position for less than three weeks when he terminated Chief Vincent. Prior to this Chief Vincent had only received outstanding reviews of his performance while running the City’s Fire Department. This termination was unlawful and Vincent will be pursuing legal action against the City.
He would like to personally thank everyone who has offered support to his family during this trying time.
“I would like to relay my sincerest heartfelt gratitude for the support from both the California City community and the California City Professional Firefighters Association. My family and I are truly moved and touched by the outpouring of support. I feel so blessed to serve in such a caring and passionate community. Second to being a father, being the Chief of this city has been the greatest honor I have ever had. I will be doing everything in my power to return to duty as your Fire Chief. It is my intention to continue to serve my community with Honor, Integrity, and Respect.”"
"California City is correctly applying the building and fire codes applicable to proposed Cannabis related businesses. There have been no waivers of these codes," said Bob Stockwell with California City .