The Mobile County Personnel Board agreed to continue an appeal hearing Thursday morning for a Mobile fire captain who was relieved of his duties because he broke rules regarding having “unauthorized female guests” at the fire station.

The hearing for Capt. Stephen Schmidt, a 15-year veteran of the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department, was rescheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 9 a.m. because a key witness for the city was unable to make the hearing, Chief Assistant City Attorney Ashton Hill told the board.

City Attorney Schmidt broke MFRD rules with “conduct unbecoming” related to having “unauthorized female guests” at the fire station. Executive Director Rich Landolt recommended Schmidt’s firing for the offense.

“The new public safety director made a decision and we back that decision,” Woods said.

Schmidt’s attorney Ed Smith admitted his client broke department and personnel board rules, but said the punishment recommended by the city’s Executive Director of Public Safety Richard Landolt was excessive. He said interim Fire Chief Randy Smith and members of a department disciplinary board suggested Schmidt be demoted to the position of driver, but Landolt went in a different direction.

“(Landolt) disregarded that and made the determination to fire him,” Smith said.

Smith called the firing “disproportionate” and gave as an example the recent demotion of Carla Longmire, formerly a captain with the Mobile Police Department, who was found guilty of having sexual relations with a subordinate officer while on duty.

“What I’m seeing is a totally disproportionate response to someone who admitted his wrong and showed contrition,” Smith said.

Smith said he was hopeful his client could get his job back and said a demotion would be “more appropriate.”

“We have a lot of faith that the board will come to a reasonable conclusion,” he said.