- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 12, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A former St. Paul fire district chief has filed a federal lawsuit alleging the fire department’s leaders interfered with the training of recruits and that created risks for the public and fellow firefighters.

Jovan Palmieri was the training chief before he left the fire department last year. His lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Monday says he spent more than three years trying to remedy the training problems and was retaliated against.

Palmieri “opposed and reported what he reasonably believed to be violations of national and state firefighter training standards,” the lawsuit said.

Palmieri said he observed Fire Chief Butch Inks and Assistant Chief Mike Gaede “engage in multiple incidents of interference and obstruction in the proper and safe training” of recruits, the St Paul Pioneer Press reported.

Inks said in a statement that “as a 26-year veteran of the St. Paul Fire Department, the safety of our firefighters and all those we serve has always been my top priority.”

Among other things, Palmieri alleges Inks intervened on behalf of recruits who weren’t meeting the required training standards, and they graduated over the objections of Palmieri and training staff.

The suit seeks damages in excess of $75,000.

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