Richmond Fire Chief defends hire of new deputy, despite ‘red flag’

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Fire Chief Robert Creecy said he made a "courageous choice" when he picked I. David Daniels as the department's new second in command despite a "red flag." Chief Creecy's comments come after WTVR CBS 6 learned some firefighters who used to work for Daniels said he jeopardized their safety.

"I’m satisfied that this is not a deal breaker," Chief Creecy said. "That this is a red flag I have vetted appropriately."

The International Association of Firefighters censured Daniels in 2010. The censure alleged that while Daniels was the Fire Chief for the City of Renton in Washington state, he cancelled firefighter physicals, removed two engine companies from service increasing response times and had a debilitating effect on morale in the department. The IAFF is a union that issues censures as a way to show a vote of no confidence toward someone in a ranking position.

I. David Daniels

I. David Daniels

Chief Creecy said he was aware of the censure during the hiring process. When asked if he was concerned about the censure, Creecy said it did come into play.

"Absolutely, I think it’s a serious component of this persons qualifications and experience," Creecy responded. "In my mind, there is balance, and I’m willing to take the bad with the good."

The former Mayor of Renton, Kathy Keolker, said in a phone interview that she hired Daniels and "would hire him again." She called him "a visionary, a change agent, and a very hard worker."

"Even though his membership might disagree with the decisions, Chief Daniels was willing to make, some very difficult decisions in tough economic times," Creecy said about Daniels’ time in Renton.

Daniels' first day at work in Richmond is June 1. According to his employment offer, he will be making $125,000 annually.

Daniels has not yet responded to an interview request.