Marysville fire chief put on leave reaches deal, agrees to retire

Martin McFalls led the agency since 2015. “The board felt it was time to go a different direction. No harm, no foul.”

Martin McFalls (Marysville Fire District)

Martin McFalls (Marysville Fire District)

MARYSVILLE — Fire Chief Martin McFalls, who was put on paid administrative leave in mid-May, has retired under a negotiated deal with the Marysville Fire District.

McFalls’ last day was June 30 under terms of the six-page separation agreement intended to “fully resolve all matters and relations” between him and the district. McFalls had been employed under a contract that ran through the end of this year.

“I’m just nothing but thankful and grateful … to be able to have done something for a community I love,” McFalls, a lifelong Marysville resident, said Friday. “I don’t want to have any sour grapes. The board felt it was time to go a different direction. No harm, no foul. I wish Marysville Fire District nothing but the best.”

He signed the agreement June 21. The district’s Board of Directors unanimously approved it in a special meeting June 23.

McFalls, 58, gets a lump sum payment of $198,674.18. That covers six months of salary for severance pay “as additional consideration for this agreement,” plus a buy out of 820.5 hours of accrued but unused vacation and sick leave.

It also takes into account $2,202 that McFalls owed the district after it was learned he had been “inadvertently” overpaid between January and April of this year. The error was discovered by an employee during calculation of McFalls’ final payout.

Non-represented employees got a 3.5% pay hike this year and district staff applied it to McFalls salary as well in error. The board sets the fire chief’s compensation and had not approved such a wage hike.

McFalls exited after nearly 34 years of firefighting service for the city of Marysville. He was hired as a part-time firefighter in 1988 and became full-time in 1990. He served stints as a lieutenant, battalion chief, and assistant chief before being named chief in 2015. He continued in that position after voters approved creation of the Marysville Fire District, a regional fire authority.

“I loved serving and it was a great career,” he said. “I would do it all again if I could.”

The district issued a statement Thursday thanking McFalls “for his many years of service to the community.”

The statement made no mention of the agreement nor explained why McFalls was placed on paid leave May 16 by the district’s Board of Directors.

“There are no further comments beyond our statement regarding Chief McFalls’ retirement on June 30, 2022,” a district spokesperson said Friday.

Nobody told McFalls exactly why he was put on leave, he said. “I don’t want to say anything without facts,” he said.

He noted that the action coincided with the start of conversation with the board on the separation agreement.

“I was going to retire at the end of the year. It was close enough for me,” he said. “It was all fair.”

Deputy Chief Darryl Neuhoff has served as acting chief. He’ll continue in the role as the district carries out a search for a new chief. Details on the search process have not yet been finalized, according to the district.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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