Davenport Central Fire Station

Davenport Fire Chief Lynn Washburn talks in 2015 about the upcoming renovations for the Central Fire Station.

QUAD-CITY TIMES FILE PHOTO

Although the city of Davenport will not comment about the reasons former Davenport Fire Chief Lynn Washburn was placed on administrative leave, the timing of her departure is now clearer.

Washburn was terminated last Thursday after failing to attend a predisciplinary meeting that same day, according to personnel file documents obtained through an open records request.

Despite informing City Administrator Corri Spiegel that she would not be available for the meeting, it was the last straw.

"During my tenure, due to actions on her part including but not limited to those of today and the past several days, she demonstrated that she is unsuitable or unfit for continued employment," Spiegel wrote.

Washburn said she could not comment on the decision other then to say that she had not seen the documents in her personnel file until they were published in the Quad-City Times.

"I hadn't seen it until somebody told me it was in the Quad-City Times," Washburn said. "To learn and hear about your career that way, it's a bit distressing."

Washburn was notified through email on July 24 of the decision to place her on administrative leave.

Spiegel told Washburn she was not to take actions as the fire chief moving forward and indicated that Assistant Chief Jim Bickford would be named acting chief until obtaining a resolution.

Washburn acknowledged receipt of the email but informed Spiegel that she would not be in attendance at the predisciplinary meeting.

"I understand this decision and support Chief Bickford's assumption of the acting chief role," Washburn wrote. "I will be out of town Thursday so will be unavailable to meet. I will use personal paid time off to cover. I understand the consequences of this decision."

Throughout the process, neither the Davenport City Council, Mayor Frank Klipsch nor city administration would comment on Washburn, citing "personnel matters."

Following Washburn's removal on Thursday, Bickford was named interim chief effective Friday, and the decision was relayed to members of the fire department through email.

"I am confident that Chief Bickford and Chief (Mike) Hayman will lead your department with the partnership, dedication and commitment that we all know they have exhibited in their more than 30 years of working together at Davenport Fire," Spiegel wrote.

Assistant to the city administator Mallory Merritt has been assigned temporarily to the fire department to provide administrative support through the transitional period.

Spiegel told members of the Fire Department that she, Bickford, Hayman and Merritt would visit each station over the coming months to "foster an open, honest and collaborative dialogue about the department's future."

Washburn's termination ended nearly six years of service as Davenport fire chief. Washburn beat out 49 candidates and survived three rounds of elimination to become chief in 2011.

Prior to arriving in Davenport, Washburn spent 29 years at the Rockford (Illinois) Fire Department, including four years as deputy chief.

"It's been an honor and privilege to be part of the such an amazing department and serve the citizens of Davenport, which I had planned on doing for years to come," Washburn said. "We've done some amazing things."

56
21
24
21
21