EVERETT — Fire Chief Murray Gordon wants to require all Everett firefighters to promptly notify him if they are arrested.
That reform comes amid a scandal focused on a recently retired firefighter who’s now charged with a felony sex crime.
The Everett Fire Department for years had dealt with legal headaches involving David Peter “Pete” Vier, 60, including stalking allegations involving two ex-girlfriends, one of whom he tracked using a hidden GPS device, records show.
City officials say they only recently learned that Vier also was arrested in Island County for allegedly assaulting his ex-wife and apparently never told his bosses.
As a result of Vier’s troubles, Gordon also wants background checks conducted on all fire department employees every two years.
Everett firefighters now are only required to promptly report arrests involving drugs or alcohol. Background checks are conducted only at hiring.
The changes would have to be negotiated with the 160-member fire fighters union. Local 46 was notified last week, President Paul Gagnon said.
“We are tied to a higher standard, so I’m not opposed to that,” Gagnon said. “My only worry is this is a knee-jerk reaction.”
Gordon’s proposal was made public Thursday in response to questions from the newspaper regarding the department’s handling of multiple complaints of Vier’s misconduct.
His 25-year career with the fire department ended in retirement on Dec. 9. He’s now awaiting trial, charged in King County with attempted commercial sexual abuse of a minor.
Records released Thursday show that Vier was in trouble at the fire department this summer after showing up on-duty at an ex-girlfriend’s job.
That came after the city in 2013 hired a coach for Vier to help him address problems with leadership and professionalism.
Up until July, Vier was the Everett Fire Department’s division chief of emergency medical services.
He was demoted and took a pay cut in part because he went to Providence Regional Medical Center in June to confront an ex-girlfriend, who is a nurse. He continued to contact her after being ordered to stop, records show.
Vier’s behavior prompted the woman’s coworkers to contact the fire department and hospital security. One coworker called Vier’s behavior “stalker-ish.”
The hospital asked the fire department to have Vier “limit his presence” at Providence. His photo was posted by security “as someone who is unwelcome at the hospital,” and extra security measures were added to the woman’s work area.
Assistant Fire Chief Bob Downey wrote in a June memo that he’d told Vier to “stay far, far away” from the woman and her co-workers at the hospital and “move on with his life.”
Vier continued to text the nurse. She also told his bosses that before the hospital incident, he’d once parked outside her office and honked his horn until she looked outside.
When Vier later was asked by his bosses if he’d violated their orders to leave her alone, he said, “Not per se.”
Chief Gordon wrote a memo to Vier on July 24 that he had lost confidence in the man’s ability to lead as a division chief.
Vier agreed to the demotion and took a lower salary of $87,000 — a $24,000 pay cut.
In September 2013, the city hired an “executive coach” to work with Vier and one other firefighter. The $26,925, four-month contract was designed to fix problems with Vier’s work and to help the other man who had requested additional leadership training.
The contract was prompted by “concerns about Mr. Vier’s ability to effectively lead his division and work effectively with other employees,” city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said.
In December 2013, Vier was told that he must invite Downey to go with him whenever he attended meetings. Downey was there due to “ongoing confidence issues with Mr. Vier’s ability to effectively lead the EMS division,” Pembroke said.
In 2012, Vier admitted to his bosses that he’d placed a GPS tracker on a different ex-girlfriend’s car without her knowledge.
In the GPS case, the Edmonds woman’s family became concerned after Vier kept showing up in places she went, including on a hiking trip and at a pharmacy.
Edmonds police investigated. No charges were filed because there was insufficient evidence to prove Vier had committed a crime. Vier faced no discipline in Everett because the Edmonds allegations involved off-duty conduct, officials said.
Vier’s bosses told him to stay out of Edmonds, where the woman lived, and to get counseling.
Over the past decade, including once this fall, Vier also has been accused of multiple domestic violence-related crimes involving his ex-wife who lives in Island County, though no charges were ever filed.
His bosses didn’t know about the Island County cases, Pembroke said Thursday.
“In reviewing the past allegations against Mr. Vier, many of which the department was not aware, department leaders are suggesting some changes to department policies,” she said.
Vier’s troubles became public after he was arrested in November when he allegedly scheduled a rendezvous with an underage prostitute.
Seattle police set up a sting, posing as a father selling his 15-year-old daughter online. Vier agreed to pay $150 for sex with the girl and asked the man if he had any other teen daughters, prosecutors allege. He remains free on $50,000 bail.
A day after Vier’s arrest, the city of Everett changed all the electronic codes on fire department buildings and office space to keep him out.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; email@example.com.