Cutler remains North Okaloosa Fire District chief for now

Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 10:24 AM.

CRESTVIEW — After nearly three hours, the North Okaloosa Fire District Commission decided on Thursday night to table discussion of removing Fire Chief Ed Cutler until next month’s meeting.

The decision came after public input and much discussion among board members during the commission’s monthly meeting at the Bob Sikes airport fire station.

All five commissioners were present at the meeting, along with Cutler and Deputy Chief Danny Worrells. Cutler’s supporters, many employees within the department, filled the room.

Crestview resident and former department commissioner Gene Wright raised the topic of Cutler’s record, mentioning an incident when a firefighter’s gun accidentally discharged in the firehouse.

Sgt. Richard Noiseux of the Okaloosa County airport police, wrote the report and said the firefighter brought a permitted weapon to the station, and was showing it to another staff member when it accidentally went off into a nearby wooded area. Accounts varied on when the accident occurred, but Noiseux estimated it was late summer or early fall in 2011. No one was hurt.

Wright told the board that he didn't believe Cutler covered up the incident. However, he was concerned that Cutler didn't report the incident to the board.

"The commissioners must now realize that Ed has a very different opinion (of) what's important, noteworthy and reportable than they do," Wright said, adding that Cutler should face that decision’s consequences. Wright told Cutler that he "would go into a fire with him," but his error in judgment warranted firing.

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