I'm thinking this is another one of those stories where there are three sides... the firefighters, the chiefs, and the truth.
I've seen chiefs make some mighty bad decisions in my time. I've also seen some very self-centered firefighters, using their union and attempting to strike fear into the public in order to secure higher pay and more overtime for themselves.
Hopefully the truth will come out, but until then, I'd be careful about judging the chief too quickly.
Just copy & paste the story here, so people avoid the registration:
Union takes aim through e-mail at Folsom fire chief
By David Richie -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:01 am PDT Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Story appeared in Metro section, Page B3
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The heated relationship between the regional firefighters union and Folsom Fire Chief Eric Dutton is sparking again this week with the union urging its Folsom members to sign a "vote of no confidence" in Dutton's leadership.
Dutton, 49, is going into his ninth year at the helm after coming up through the ranks in the Folsom Fire Department. He started with what was then basically a volunteer firefighting organization while still in high school. He became a full-time professional firefighter in 1977.
He said Tuesday that he is disappointed about the union's attack on his job performance.
Dutton, who has announced plans to retire next year when he turns 50, said he will not be forced out early by the firefighters' efforts.
"I serve at the pleasure of the city manager," Dutton said.
Brian Rice, president of Sacramento Area Fire Fighters Local 522, confirmed Tuesday that he sent e-mails last week to the approximately 70 union members in the Folsom Fire Department.
Firefighters were asked to stop by a local coffeehouse today and Thursday to place their names on a signature page if they support the no-confidence vote.
In an interview Tuesday, Dutton stressed the high level of performance being maintained by the entire department. He also noted that the city recently signed a three-year contract with the firefighters union.
Plans also are continuing for development of a fifth fire station. The department's budget this year is up from about $12.5 million to about $15.2 million.
"There are so many other things in the works, and answering this takes some of my time," Dutton said.
He recently drafted a seven-page, single-spaced response addressing many of the issues raised by Rice and others. That letter to Fire Department employees was distributed Monday.
Mayor Andy Morin echoed Dutton's remarks about the professionalism of Fire Department personnel even as they have voiced concerns over the past few years.
There has not been one major issue that has ignited dissent, Morin said.
"I would characterize it as an accumulation of events and decisions that some firefighters feel were not in the best interest of building the department," Morin said.
He said the latest action by local firefighters will be taken seriously by the City Council, and it will be a subject of major discussion among elected officials and top administrators.
"We continue to support Eric Dutton, but we need to assess what is in the best interest of the city and the department," Morin said.
In his e-mail, Rice notes that a no-confidence vote will make it clear to city officials that concern about Dutton is widespread and not coming from just a "few disgruntled employees."
The union first turned up the heat on Dutton in late June. Rice reiterated Tuesday in a telephone message that the action he is calling for is driven by "lack of leadership," and it has nothing to do with contracts, wages or benefits.
He was not available for further comment about the situation.