CLEVELAND -- Cleveland's fire chief has received a verbal reprimand after a firefighter said he threatened to stab him in the neck for violating dress code.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reportedthe city's safety director said in a letter to Fire Chief Daryl McGinnis that his choice of words was "totally inappropriate," although he praised the chief's passion and leadership.

Cleveland Safety Director Martin Flask wrote that McGinnis violated two civil service rules for conduct and language. The firefighter filed the complaint after he says McGinnis threatened him June 26 because he was not wearing his fatigue shirt while on duty.

The firefighter's union called the reprimand a "slap on the wrist." McGinnis did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press on Wednesday night.