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Franklin fire chief’s resignation follows lack of approval to work out of state during pandemic

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Rocky Gazarek

Former Franklin Fire Chief Rocky Garzarek resigned from his position on June 16 after failure to gain approval for remote work between March and May of this year, according to city of Franklin documents. 

Rocky Garzarek recently resigned from his position as chief of the Franklin Fire Department, and documents obtained from the city of Franklin reveal that his resignation followed his inability to gain approval to work from another state between March and May of this year.  

Garzarek claimed he wanted to work remotely in order to care for his elderly parents. 

The city of Franklin announced Garzarek’s resignation on June 16, effective immediately. City Administrator Eric Stuckey said Garzarek made the personal decision to step down after a conversation concerning Stuckey’s performance expectations. 

“I appreciate Chief Garzarek’s 16 years of service to the city of Franklin and the many achievements of the department during this time,” Stuckey said in June. “(I) offer my sincere thanks to Chief Garzarek for his service and wish him well in the future.” 

A document filed on June 8 notified Garzarek of a departmental hearing concerning his alleged failure to gain approval for remote work over a three-month period, his neglect “to notify (his) supervisor and direct reports of (his) whereabouts,” and “failure to request and take any time off while in another state during this time period.” The document noted that the hearing would determine the severity of Garzarek’s offense and the appropriate disciplinary actions ranging from an oral reprimand to dismissal. 

Two days later, Garzarek waived his right to the departmental hearing with a letter to Stuckey, explaining his need to care for his out-of-state parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“In the midst of a worldwide coronavirus pandemic of unprecedented times, I am sorry that we are dealing with this situation,” Garzarek wrote. “While I communicated with you early on that I needed to provide for the needs and care for my elderly parents, I failed to keep you apprised of my whereabouts with frequent updates for why I needed to remain where I was working remotely.” 

Garzarek further wrote that, on a few occasions, he was able to return to Franklin in 24 hours or less when a major event or emergency occurred and did not neglect his leadership duties, asking that his 46 years in public safety and 16 years as chief with the city of Franklin be considered in Stuckey’s decision. 

In a handwritten note, Garzarek resigned on June 16. 

Glenn Johnson, who was the assistant fire chief at the time of Garzarek’s resignation, has been named interim fire chief by the city as the administration considers a permanent hire for the position. 

“We will take some time to determine our process for the selection of our next fire chief,” Stuckey said in a statement to the fire department. “In the meantime, I know you will continue to serve the community to the very best of your ability and that you will fully support Chief Johnson and the entire fire department team during this time of transition.” 

For more information about the Franklin Fire Department, visit franklintn.gov/government/departments-a-j/fire.

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