Temporary Utica fire chief to resign

Published Jun 19, 2018 at 4:00pm

Temporary Utica Fire Chief John Kelly will resign his leadership position effective July 1, according to Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri.

The resignation comes in the middle of a controversy that Kelly may have used his position to court sexual activities from a would-be fire department recruit, according to reports in local media.

Palmieri’s office released a statement on Monday that Kelly would be stepping down from his position as acting Fire Chief effective July 1, when he will return to his duties as a deputy chief. Kelly was temporary chief after former Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks was placed on leave over a legal battle with the city.

Palmieri said he is “exploring the feasibility” of appointing a new temporary fire chief until a permanent chief can be appointed. He said he has requested that the Utica Municipal Civil Service Commission begin the process of an “Open Competitive” examination to find a suitable candidate.

The Mayor’s Office has not released details about why Kelly is stepping down. On July 12, the mayor issued another statement that said the city was “made aware of allegations” against a member of the fire department, without naming Kelly. The Mayor’s Office said that the Utica Police Department was contacted to investigate, and it was determined that “no criminal conduct took place.”

The Mayor’s Office said the member of the department was disciplined, but that the city could not legally disclose the details due to state Civil Rights laws.

Meanwhile, local radio station WIBX reported that Kelly exchanged lurid text messages with a young man in his early 20s who sought to join the fire department.