Fire Chief: "It was 'retire or be fired'"

Residents said they're worried about the department's lack of experience without Vandermey as the chief.

Rich Vandermey has been with the Peninsula Township Fire Department for almost forty years. He's been the chief since 1989.

Now he says he has been forced to retire. He said he was given the ultimatum on Friday: either retire, or be fired.

Dozens of Peninsula Township residents gathered at the Fire Board meeting Monday night to speak out against Vandermey's resignation.

Several residents spoke about his dedication and experience.

They're demanding to know why this decision was made.

"Rich has been a beacon of this peninsula the entire time he's been here," Peninsula resident Rocko Fouch said. "Before politics got a hold of this department, he was the one running up and down the road on his own dime".

Vandermey's wife, Pam, also took the podium.

"I can't begin to tell you the number of interrupted birthdays, anniversaries and lack of vacations our family has had to endure because of his dedication to this community," she said. "Chief Vandermey has given his life to his department and the community it serves".

Vandermey's resignation takes effect July 31st.

Two other members of the department have resigned because of the situation. 7&4 News is told more resignations are expected.

Members of Peninsula Township Fire Board declined to comment on their decision.