ONLY ON 3: Fired firefighter, friends fight to get his job back

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Submitted: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 3:53am
Updated: Wed, 08/21/2013 - 12:20pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — He was fired not for being a bad employee, but for being locked up.

But now, after being cleared of all charges against him, former Wilmington firefighter Robert Hester is back home. Now he and other firefighters are working their way up the ladder to try and get his job back.

The city fired Hester in April because he’d missed too many days of work while being held without bond in Virginia. During his trial many of his former colleagues continued to stand by his side.

“The DA’s office decided to drop the remaining charge, because there was no credible evidence that ANYTHING happened, and their one witness perjured herself, and is no longer credible,” Master firefighter Michael Bannon wrote in an email to all of WFD shortly after the verdict. “He will be home tonight if anyone wants to come up to Elizabethtown to welcome him home… Anyone is welcome to go, and show him that this department did not abandon him.”

The following day Wilmington Fire Chief Buddy Martinette started the push to get Hester his old job back.

“At this point I would like to request that we reinstate Robert to his previous position and pay him retroactively to the day he was terminated,” Martinette wrote in an e-mail to City Attorney Bill Wolak. “As most of you know, I was vehemently opposed to the way this situation was handled, however I carried out my duties as chief to terminate this employee.”

Until Hester can either have his civil servant hearing or is reinstated many of his colleagues have vowed to stand beside him and fan the flames of hope.

We tried to contact Hester for comment on this story and on his pending appeal, but we have not heard back. Chief Martinette was also not available for comment this afternoon.

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34 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: Fired firefighter, friends fight to get his job back"

2015 years 8 months ago

Robert should definitely be reinstated and paid for his lost wages. This man has not had a negative evaluation or been disciplined. So many forget we are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Sadly, so many are tried and convicted by the media before they ever reach a court room. Hat’s off to the Chief for standing behind his employees. If a police officer is involved in a shooting he is placed on administrative leave. It’s time the city changed there policy and extended this to ALL employees. I guess we’ll have to wait to see if the city leaders dothe right thing or continue to worry about saving face!!!

Realistic Guest
2015 years 8 months ago

Oh Come On Now, you know darn well that even though this was not a racist incident. had the firefighter been black it would have been made into one. The race card is always the one played when blacks do not get their way.

2015 years 8 months ago

The Fire Dept should probably treat his absence as a lay off. He would not be paid for that time, but can be one of the first to be recalled if an opening occurs. After all, even though it was not his fault, there was an opening that had to be filled. The Fire Dept did nothing wrong in following policy. HOWEVER, I believe applicants with criminal backgrounds cannot be hired, and if a criminal act occurs during employment they have to be terminated. SO he had better check to see if there is a criminal record out there in a background check. If there is, the whole point of reinstating is mute. He would need to get it expunged.

Screaming Scott
2015 years 8 months ago

Thanks for the information, Guest 1. But a Civil Service Hearing, not just a post, by Guest 1, will reveal the entire truth. Which is what is needed. If he is, in fact, innocent, he needs to apply for a Civil Service Hearing, immediately.

2015 years 8 months ago

They let a drunk keep his job the first time he was caught drinking on the job and the second time they let him quit and didn’t fire him. They why not give an innocent and should get his job back.

Well, the drunk was an officer in the FD, so I guess the good old boy’s were looking after him.