Tom Lique, former Key Peninsula fire chief. Courtesy photo

Pierce County Fire District 16 Fire Commissioners placed a prepared “resignation” in front of Fire Chief Tom Lique at the end of their Jan. 28 board meeting. Lique’s last day with the Key Peninsula Fire Department was Jan. 31.

Board Chairperson and official spokesperson Raymond Lamoureux acknowledged that the commissioners had been in discussions and had decided their desire for the department to move in a “different direction.”

“We have been very happy with Tom and what he has done for the fire department, and will give him a good letter of recommendation,” Lamoureux said. “The board just has a different vision for the future of the department.”

At this time, both parties are staying tight-lipped about the circumstances, but for now, Guy Allen, the department’s assistant chief, is the current interim fire chief.

“I went to work that day with no plans to resign,” said Lique on a KP News Facebook posting. Lique is reluctant to say much because of an agreement with the commissioners not to say anything disparaging.

On the same Facebook thread, Lamoureux said that there are “obviously things that cannot be said both by law and agreement.”

There are no known records of any disciplinary action against former chief Lique. And for the most part, social media comments appear to be quite supportive of Lique, bent with a cry for a sound explanation.

Lamoureux said that anyone can come to their regular board meetings and voice anything they choose.

“We are going to have a special meeting where we are going to pull all the folks in the fire department –– the union, the office staff and obviously interim Chief Allen and the whole board, and start putting together a list of qualifications and desired qualifications for the new chief,” Lamoureux said.

As of press time, the commissioners have not set a meeting date, but Lamoureux said it should be sometime around the second week in March.

“And of course, that’s definitely public,” he added. “I don’t know how much public input we will allow that day, but the public is more than welcome to sit in, and if we do open it up for public comment, they can chime in.

Public records requests were made by the KP News. A response was received within the five day required response time, stating, “The request was forwarded to the District’s Attorney for further assistance, and anticipate the records that can be lawfully released to be complete Feb. 28, 2014.”

Prior to making the formal record request, Nancy Krier, the State Ombudsman at the Attorney General’s Office was consulted. She said that “public officials work for the people and there are very few exceptions allowed concerning public records release.”

Krier verified there were no exceptions that would apply to the information requested of the fire department.

According to Krier, the Open Public Meeting Act (OPMA) requires that all board action must be by motion and voted on in an open public meeting. No action can be taken in an executive session that is closed to the public. The law contains tight controls over what is allowed to be done outside of public view, she said.

A review of the meeting minutes for many months of PCFD 16 Board of Commissioners’ meetings revealed that there was never a motion, discussion, or vote to create and present a resignation agreement to Lique.

Editor’s note: Follow us on keypennew.com or facebook.com/KeyPenNews for updates to this story and the date of the public meeting. The comments referred to in this story can be found on the Facebook thread under “Breaking,” Jan. 28, the night of the board meeting.

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