STOCKBRIDGE — The select board voted to terminate Ernest “Chuckie” Cardillo as fire chief, a decision that may have cost the town as dearly as the scam that targeted the fire department.
At last count, 15 members of the Stockbridge Fire Department have resigned after the board voted 2-0 on Feb. 5 to remove Cardillo as chief. The department is now down to only eight members.
The fire department, under Cardillo’s leadership as chief, fell victim to a scam perpetrated by two companies, Noble Supply Corp., and Pioneer Products. Purchases from the companies were authorized by Cardillo, and did not follow town procedures for acquisition, the select board reported.
Cardillo was placed on paid partial administrative leave during negotiations with the town, serving as a firefighter and EMT, as well as performing inspections.
The original motion to remove Cardillo as chief, by select board member Terry Flynn, called for Cardillo to immediately terminate Cardillo, rescind his partial paid administrative leave, and to turn over the department SUV, all keys, equipment, documents and other town-owned items to the interim chief, as well as to cease all contact for one year, or until any litigation against the town is complete.
Further discussion from Select Board Chairman Don Chabon brought a less harsh decision, which removed Cardillo as chief, but would allow him to be employed in the department if he is appointed by the interim chief.
“I’m not into banishing people,” Chabon said.
Public reaction to the decision has been overwhelmingly negative. A Facebook post by Stockbridge Fire/Rescue/EMS announcing the select board’s decision has received 50 comments and has been shared almost 100 times. Comments on the post have decried the board’s decision to remove Cardillo, questioning the wisdom in removing a fire chief with more than 40 years of experience.