North Lincoln Fire & Rescue District Captain Jim Kusz has been suspended from his position as NLFR Public Information Officer following his recent retirement announcement and will no longer be releasing information to media.
“Jim has devoted his life to the fire department and to give him a suspension letter because of what he said is kind of a slap in the face,” wife and City Councilperson Diane Kusz said. “He’s always stayed very professional. Even if he disagreed with something, he kept it to himself and stuck to the facts.”
Diane Kusz resigned from the NLFR Support Team after her husband received the suspension letter.
Citing ethics and safety concerns, Kusz announced his retirement “sooner than intended” at the Oct. 9 meeting where interim Fire Chief Rob Dahlman was appointed fire chief for a one-year period. Kusz will retire Feb. 28, 2020.
In an email to Kusz dated Oct. 14 from Fire Marshall Ed Ulrich, Kusz is informed he is “suspended effective immediately” from “all public information officer duties” due to “your public comments at the October 9, 2019 North Lincoln Fire & Rescue District #1 Board of Directors Meeting have resulted in a loss in confidence that you can continue to perform those duties in the best interest of the District.”
In an email sent to media outlets shortly after Homepage called to speak with Kusz in his PIO capacity, Fire Chief Rob Dahlman said:
“As of this morning Captain Jim Kusz is no longer the Public Information Officer for North Lincoln Fire & Rescue.
He remains the Public Education Officer and Safety Officer for the District.
With Jim’s announced retirement, the District is moving forward with a replacement for PIO duties.”
According to NLFR, Volunteer Captain Dennis Knudson will assume public information officer duties with assistance from Ulrich.
“I appreciate the many years Jim has devoted to being the PIO for NLFR,” Dahlman said.