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Bay fire chief urged inspector to ‘walk away’ from code violations
By J.R. Welsh
Jun 10, 2011, 17:39
Last October, the Bay St. Louis fire chief allegedly ordered a fire marshal who ultimately lost his job to “just walk away” from situations where he discovered fire code violations at local businesses, rather than follow procedure and issue citations to business owners.
In a Civil Service hearing Thursday, it was revealed that Fire Chief Pam San Fillippo had chastised former Fire Marshal Eddie Bourgeois for issuing citations to restaurant owners, inferring that his actions were making things politically uncomfortable for Mayor Les Fillingame.
“Just walk away from it,” San Fillippo told the 42-year-old fire marshal, who spent more than 22 years as a firefighter and reserve deputy sheriff before being fired by Fillingame in early March.
In such cases, she said, Bourgeois should simply bring the information to her instead of acting on it.
“Tell them you’ll get back to them … the mayor cannot have businesses complaining,” she said.
Unbeknownst to San Fillippo at the time, the discussion was recorded on Bourgeois’ cell phone as he was being reprimanded for taking action against a local Chinese restaurant where he found a dirty stove hood that posed a fire hazard. Also during the conversation, San Fillippo said: “There’s other businesses still complaining that you’re trying to go after them, trying to harass them … whatever.”
San Fillippo was interim fire chief at the time, having replaced former Fire Chief Fred Butts, who had quietly resigned in disgust over interference from city hall in Fire Department matters. San Fillippo, a close friend of Mayor Fillingame and his family, was later elevated to full-time fire chief. Continue reading “Ghosts of Telemachus: Bay fire chief urged inspector to ‘walk away’ from code violations”