Former Assistant Fire Chief Feels Betrayed

fire chief
Fire turnout gear. | Image by Scott David Patterson, Shutterstock

A former assistant fire chief said he feels “betrayed” by the city he has served for nearly three decades.

Assistant Chief Cameron Kraemer was fired from the Frisco Fire Department on May 1. His termination occurred while he was on medical leave for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Kraemer had been employed by the Frisco Fire Department for 27 years, serving in various capacities, including Deputy Chief, Battalion Chief, Captain, Lieutenant, and Firefighter/Paramedic.

He told The Dallas Morning News that he had been suffering from PTSD since 2020 and he had been undertaking measures to treat the condition. As many as 57% of firefighters suffer from PTSD, according to research documented in the National Library of Medicine.

The Mayo Clinic reports that symptoms of this condition can manifest in a variety of internal and external ways, such as trouble sleeping, negative thoughts and emotions, hopelessness, self-destructive behavior, and angry or aggressive outbursts.

In August, Kraemer lost control and found himself yelling at employees following a Mayday call and two reports of major structure fires. The next day, he cried uncontrollably while cleaning blood and other substances after an accident that had left another firefighter seriously injured, Kraemer told The Dallas Morning News.

After these events, the assistant chief took a medical leave of absence and sought treatment from a doctor. Kraemer requested an extension of this leave, wanting more time to heal, and provided the city with documentation.

However, Kraemer was terminated from his position on May 1, the first day of Mental Health Awareness Month. The city’s termination letter to Kraemer stated that officials had “no choice” but to make this decision due to his being “unable to return to work with or without reasonable accommodations,” according to The Dallas Morning News.

This letter also claimed that his leave of absence had “compromised” the department’s operations and created an “undue burden and hardship on the department.”

Kraemer appeared before the Frisco City Council on May 2 to protest his dismissal.

“I’m sure most of you wouldn’t understand what it feels like to have a child handed to you, limp, from being found in the bathtub. I’m sure that most of you don’t understand what it’s like to have multiple near-death experiences in structure fires,” said Kraemer at the meeting. “These things add up.”

“The bottom line is, the City has abandoned me,” Kraemer said.

During the meeting, City Manager Wes Pierson responded to Kraemer’s remarks: “The information shared this evening is incomplete and unfortunately misrepresents the city’s actions.

“It is important to note for work-related injuries, employees are required to provide specific medical documentation and evidence that meets the legal requirements that they qualify for particular leave and other benefits,” he added.

Pierson asserted that the city had acted in compliance with all local and state policies and noted that this was a personnel and administrative matter not related to the City Council.

Kraemer’s current goals are to continue his healing process to one day return to his work, and he said he is making progress in improving his health.

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