WECT Investigates: Ex-town manager confirms firehouse incident led to his firing

WECT Investigates: Ex-town manager confirms firehouse incident led to his firing

OAK ISLAND, NC (WECT) - The former town manager for Oak Island is speaking out for the first time since he was abruptly fired over a year ago.

Town leaders never offered an explanation for why they terminated Tim Holloman after a closed session meeting, but sources told WECT off the record that the firing stemmed from an embarrassing incident at the town's firehouse.

Holloman reached out to WECT this week after we published a story about a new policy the town was considering for use of the living quarters at the Oak Island fire stations. Holloman says it's "a response I think is long overdue" on the fallout from the incident that he says ultimately cost him his job.

According to the original tip we received about the incident, an intoxicated volunteer firefighter and a civilian were invited to Oak Island Fire Station 2 in October 2015 by some fire department employees. While at the station, the volunteer allegedly fell from a fire pole and was seriously injured.

There were additional claims that the injured person was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Charlotte in an effort to keep the incident quiet.

Holloman defended his handling of the incident in this statement to WECT:

"In fact, immediately after the alleged incident in October of 2015, I spoke with the Fire Chief and a Town Council member, not currently serving on Council, and was assured that all safety procedures were followed and that the incident was not a departure from current policy and that a more formal investigation was not needed.  Later in December, after I reviewed an employee's disciplinary action on a separate matter, I did decide under advisement from the Town Attorney that a more in depth inquiry should be made.  These inquiries were made and the current Council was made aware of my findings and that problems existed.  Based on the current policies I recommended to the Council specific employees who required disciplinary action.  Once advising Council of this within two weeks I was terminated.  To my knowledge the employees involved are still working for the town and never received any disciplinary action or termination."

Holloman says he was not immediately aware of all of the troubling elements of the event at the fire house, and that's why he did not recommend disciplinary action sooner.

Regarding the injured volunteer being transported to an out-of-town hospital, Holloman says fire officials told him the person in question had relatives in another part of the state and was transported there as a courtesy so he could be closer to them while he recuperated.

Holloman says he still doesn't understand why council chose to terminate him rather than discipline the people directly involved in the incident at the firehouse.

"I feel I was treated unfairly," Holloman said. "It's hard to speculate why they would do that. Perhaps because I had the shortest time in the community. Other than that and political reasons, that's the only thing I can imagine."

Holloman, who was fired a year after he accepted the job with Oak Island, says the town attorney offered to draft a statement saying Holloman's departure as town manager was not a termination, but a mutual decision to part ways. But he was told that option would only be offered if Holloman agreed not to take legal action against the town, and at the time, he was not comfortable accepting those conditions.

Holloman has since accepted another job and has no plans to pursue any kind of legal action against the town of Oak Island.

Still, he felt the need to defend his reputation as the town has consistently refused to explain what happened at the firehouse and the fallout continues to make headlines.

"I'd hoped they would (explain what happened), but I am not surprised," Holloman said. "I think a lot of times government tries to focus on the positive, and if there is any hint that something is not quite kosher, they try to minimize that."

We reached out to Oak Island Mayor Cin Brochure to see if she could at least comment on Holloman's statement to WECT. She again declined, saying it was a personnel matter.

"It's a moot point for us," Brochure said. "We've moved on."

This week, Oak Island Town Council unanimously approved a new policy for the town's firehouse that is noteworthy in light of the October 2015 incident.

The policy states in part, "The living quarters are permitted for use by on-duty personnel during their shift…. No alcoholic beverages shall be permitted on the premises of any fire station…. No visitors or guests of any kind shall be permitted…. [and] The fire pole is designated solely for fire department personnel for use in an emergency or during training only."

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