CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The city’s fire department announced the immediate retirement of a deputy fire chief on Friday, following questions on the official’s spending and social media comments some had criticized as offensive and transphobic.

Jeff Dulin
Jeff Dulin

Charlotte Fire Chief Jon Hannan made the announcement on Friday, saying that Deputy Chief Jeff Dulin would retire that day at 5 p.m.

Dulin joined the fire department in 1983, serving as a firefighter, captain and battalion chief before he was named deputy chief in 2002.

“I want to thank Deputy Chief Dulin for his 32 years of service to Charlotte and the Charlotte Fire Department,” said Fire Chief Jon Hannan. “From fighting fires to his dedication to Emergency Management and Homeland Security, he has served the City and its citizens well, especially in his leading role in planning for the Democratic National Convention.”

At the department, Dulin oversaw communications, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management, special operations and training.

The retirement comes after Dulin was placed on administrative leave on Monday, facing questions over a Facebook meme he shared on Feb. 14. The meme featured Bruce Jenner, a former Olympian who is rumored to be undergoing a gender transition, though he himself has not confirmed those rumors.

On one side of the image, Jenner’s original 1976 Wheaties cereal box is shown. On the right of the image, a more recent, feminized photo of Jenner is photoshopped on to a Fruit Loops box.

“Fruit” has been a common slur against LGBT people.

Some advocates had said the post was offensive and called for Dulin to issue an apology for the image, which he did.

“I want everyone to know that I am by no means a person who holds any prejudicial feelings toward any member of our community,” wrote in the apology released on Feb. 23. “This is incredibly personal to me, and while I will not go into details, I want to assure everyone that I respect people of all backgrounds and sexual preference.”

Janice Covington Allison, a local transgender activist who also once served as a chief of a volunteer fire department, had said she didn’t want Dulin fired.

“I am a retired Fire Chief, trained to save lives and property. I am shocked that a fellow firefighter would do this,” Allison had said in a release this week. “In any event and at the least, this calls for Dulin to apologize and take responsibility for his lack of judgment.” Allison had also hoped Dulin might lead the charge for sensitivity training in the fire department.

But Dulin might have been faced with few options. The city is currently investigating the firing of another fire department employee after she shared what some saw as offensive remarks on Michael Brown, the African-American teenager killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo.

Additionally, Dulin had recently come under scrutiny for his spending. A recent city audit report notes that Dulin had overcharged the city for reimbursements and other expenses more than any other employee. The value of the overcharged expenses is about $2,600.

OPINION: Potential Dulin firing or discipline a ‘double-edged sword’

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.