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  • More trouble in Jackson

    August 16, 2006



    Union: Suspended firefighters told 'the truth'

    5 disciplined for speaking to reporters about Fire Department problems

    By Chris Joyner
    [email protected]






    SUSPENDED

    These firefighters were suspended Monday with pay. All five had spoken to the news media last month regarding problems in the Fire Department.

    Capt. Brandon Falcon, president of the Jackson Firefighters Association

    Capt. Patrick Armon

    Capt. Reubin Ray

    Lt. Vernon Gee

    Capt. Sidney Johnson, former candidate for fire chief




    The Jackson Firefighters union membership spoke out Tuesday night in support of five firefighters suspended with pay on Monday after they talked to local news media about problems within the Jackson Fire Department.

    "The suspensions make no sense to me because what the people said was and is the truth," said Jackson Firefighters Association member Chris Garner.

    The union meeting was closed to the public, but officials said the consensus was in support of the suspended firefighters.

    Ward 6 City Councilman Marshand Crisler met with some of the suspended firefighters Tuesday morning.

    Crisler said the department suffers from a lack of permanent leadership. Todd Chandler was named interim fire chief more than a year ago.

    Chandler's office referred comment to city spokesman Tyrone Lewis. Lewis would not comment, citing an ongoing personnel investigation.

    Jackson Mayor Frank Melton said he is working to get to the bottom of the problems within the Fire Department - problems he said have their roots in previous administrations.

    "This has been going on for 25 years," he said.

    "I've asked (City Council President) Ben Allen for his help and his guidance because I just don't understand it."

    Capt. Brandon Falcon, president of the union local, was among the firefighters suspended. Also suspended were Capts. Sidney Johnson, a candidate for fire chief last fall, Patrick Armon and Reubin Ray and Lt. Vernon Gee.

    All five firefighters had spoken to the local media last month before Chandler's confirmation hearing and complained that budget cuts Chandler had made had resulted in manpower shortages and a scarcity of supplies.

    Melton cancelled Chandler's confirmation hearing when it became clear he did not have the votes required to confirm him.

    Last week, the five firefighters received letters from Assistant Fire Chief Tony Davis ordering them to provide documents supporting their statements or face disciplinary procedures.

    Melton said the suspended firefighters "disrespected" him by not bringing their complaints to him before going to the media.

    However, Falcon said former union chief Chandra Hardaway and Lt. Travis Frazier, union secretary, told him six months ago that the mayor would not see him.

    Falcon said the pair visited him on Feb. 26 after he had made numerous requests to speak with the mayor after defeating Hardaway in a November election to head the local union chapter last November.

    "I have not contacted him (Melton) since the 26th since he told me he would not meet with me," Falcon said.

    Robert Shaffer, president of the Mississippi AFL-CIO, said the pair made a similar visit to his office around the same time to deliver the same message.

    "They just basically said the mayor wasn't going to meet him (Falcon) because he was mad at him. ... I just told them it wasn't my business," Shaffer said.

    Melton said Tuesday he made no such order.

    "There are a lot of people going around saying, 'Frank said,'" he said.

    Hardaway disputed the accounts of the meetings by Shaffer and Falcon.

    Melton said he would be glad to meet with the firefighters "as long as (they) are willing to do the right thing."

    These firefighters were suspended Monday with pay. All five had spoken to the news media last month regarding problems in the Fire Department.


    I would bet this falls under the IAFF's Guardian Policy which defends Union leaders First Amendment and protected rights as union officers.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

  • #2
    Melton said he would be glad to meet with the firefighters "as long as (they) are willing to do the right thing."
    What does that mean? " Do the right thing"?
    Warm Regards,
    Shawn Stoner
    EMT-B

    Comment


    • #3
      Imagine that, a group of company officers and union members/leaders who are standing up for what their membership needs.

      Leadership. A novel concept.


      Yet where is the criticism for a chief, mayor, city council that allows 5 men to be suspended for bringing up a point of order for the safety of the community, their public servants, and themselves?

      These men would likely not have done this if the supposed "leaders" of the city would have addressed the matters.

      Yet these guys are made out to be the bad guys.

      Don't you just love politics?
      "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

      The borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 - Debt free since 10/5/2009.

      "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." - New York Judge Gideon Tucker

      "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." - Dave Barry

      www.daveramsey.com www.clarkhoward.com www.heritage.org

      Comment


      • #4
        Melton said the suspended firefighters "disrespected" him by not bringing their complaints to him before going to the media.

        That quote is going to look really good for the defense when that federal civil rights suit goes to trial.

        IMHO, moaning to the media isn't usually the way to win a disagreement with town hall BUT it is absoultely constitutionally protected speech.

        The administration also gave complete credibility to these guy's claims. You don't normally shoot the messenger unless there's something to the message.

        Comment


        • #5
          Could this also be due to a violation of chain of command ?

          Why didn't they report it to the union and let them do what there supposed to do ?


          not picking sides just curious.........
          ******=================
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          ------GOD BLESS AMERICA ! ------

          Comment


          • #6
            One of those suspended was Brandon Falcon, the local union president. I am unsure of the others position within the union. I posted this because I really thought things would get better for Jackson firefighters. They have had a rough go of it for many years. I also posted it because I have spent a little time in Jackson and am always concerned about MY safety when I am staying overnight somewhere.
            IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

            Comment


            • #7
              Jackson ___________? What State?

              Comment


              • #8
                from the front page 2 or more days ago

                http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=46&id=50748

                Five Mississippi Firefighters Suspended after Talking to Media

                Five suspended Jackson firefighters said they are being punished for speaking out.

                Four captains and a lieutenant were suspended with pay for taking their concerns to the media.

                The firemen said they have safety concerns for themselves and the people of Jackson. They said their concerns are legitimate that the chief is not addressing. The firemen believe they had no choice but to go to the media.

                Capt. Brandon Falcon is an 11-year veteran of the Jackson Fire Department and also the union president.

                On Monday he and four other firefighters were suspended for taking safety concerns to the media.

                "It's our first amendment rights to speak on any matter that we feel threatened about and we will not be censored," said Falcon.

                Falcon's complaint is that the department is 50 firefighters short and trucks are being sent to fire scenes without enough manpower.

                He said that's putting firefighters in danger and affecting how fast fires can be put out.

                "I have met with the fire chief numerous times and so far as it went to the fire chief, it did," said Falcon.

                Falcon claims he had no choice but to take his concerns to the media when Chief Todd Chandler did nothing about it.

                WAPT tried to talk with Chandler about his decision to suspend the firefighters and about the stress in the department, but he said he had no comment because the issue is a personal matter.

                "I may be suspended after this but I'm lending my support," said Falcon.

                Firefighter Vernon Davis is a 21-year veteran of the department. He's standing behind the suspended supervisors.

                Davis said he does not feels safe when responding to calls and is disappointed Chandler doesn't appear to be standing behind his men.

                "If you don't ever want to meet with me then there's nothing I can do. I have no other recourse than to tell someone that IÂ’m in danger because of the manpower shortage," said Davis.

                Falcon and the other suspended men said theyÂ’ll fight the disciplinary action, but they feel itÂ’s not doing anything to solve the real problem of firefighter safety.

                The fire chief did not show up for the Jackson City Council meeting on Tuesday. The City Council did not discuss the topic during the meeting.
                IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
                Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
                ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
                RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
                LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
                I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
                "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
                http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by BFDNJFF
                  Could this also be due to a violation of chain of command ?

                  Why didn't they report it to the union and let them do what there supposed to do ?


                  not picking sides just curious.........

                  While I can be a stickler for rules at times, the chain of command has been addressed. This is a very long standing issue and has been posted several times before.

                  And at what point is it OK to make the matter more broadly known when the chain of command has failed you?
                  "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

                  The borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 - Debt free since 10/5/2009.

                  "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." - New York Judge Gideon Tucker

                  "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." - Dave Barry

                  www.daveramsey.com www.clarkhoward.com www.heritage.org

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Uh Huh............

                    Originally posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
                    I also posted it because I have spent a little time in Jackson and am always concerned about MY safety when I am staying overnight somewhere.
                    Call me before booking a room in the DC area.
                    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
                    In memory of
                    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
                    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

                    IACOJ Budget Analyst

                    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

                    www.gdvfd18.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      from todays news ..........

                      Firehouse.com Home > News Headlines

                      Mississippi Mayor Wants Assistant Chief Terminated after Firefighters Commented to Media

                      Updated: 08-18-2006 05:12:31 PM

                      Don Champion Story by wapt.com

                      Mayor Frank Melton said he wants to fire five Jackson firefighters who talked to the media this week about their safety concerns.

                      Now, the mayor says he also wants to fire the assistant fire chief.

                      "I'm not gonna put up with this. I don't believe in this kind of stuff,” said Melton.

                      Strong words from Melton on Thursday Strong words Thursday from Jackson Mayor Frank Melton regarding the ongoing saga of five suspended city firemen.

                      The firefighters were suspended for complaining to the media about concerns for their own safety.

                      Melton said he also wants to terminate the assistant fire chief for speaking negatively about Jackson.

                      “You ain’t gonna push Tony Davis outta nothing,” said Melton.

                      Just hours before the mayorÂ’s comments, Assistant Fire Chief Tony Davis held an impromptu news conference claiming there was a letter now circulating among City Council members, calling for his firing because of the suspension of the five firemen.

                      Davis said he was just enforcing city rules about talking to the media.

                      "If you adopt them and we carry them out, don’t point the finger at us, point them at yourself, “said Davis.

                      Davis has been very vocal since heÂ’s worked with the city of Jackson. He was once union president and won a lawsuit against the city.

                      Part of the settlement in that lawsuit, stipulated that Davis wouldnÂ’t work for the city again. But Melton brought him back on the force once he became mayor.

                      Melton wouldnÂ’t explain why he allowed Davis to return to work at the city.

                      City Councilman Marshand Crisler said the whole situation is proof there is a lack of strong leadership at the Jackson Fire Department.

                      "Because that situation is so fragile its become unstable in the sense that there is no defined leadership,” said Crisler.

                      “I wasn't hired to referee 5th grade kids. They can do that on their own time. Firefighters are hired to fight fires, not start them,” said Melton.

                      ItÂ’s not known exactly when the mayor plans to terminate the assistant fire chief and the suspended firemen.
                      IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
                      Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
                      ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
                      RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
                      LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
                      I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
                      "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
                      http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        How is it that the mayor can comment in the news media, but firefighters can't?
                        I do know that the laws surrounding free speech are different for citizens vs. government employees.
                        For instance; citizens have little or no constraints when it comes to free speech, but constraints may be put on government employees.
                        Crazy, huh?
                        But still, Mayor Meltdown can talk tough to the media about his fire department, but the firefighters can't talk tough about city government.
                        Kinda unfair, isn't it?
                        CR
                        Visit www.iacoj.com
                        Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
                        RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          a similar incident happend to a vicksburg firefighter about a year ago. vicksburg is located about 40 or so miles west of jackson. last election we had for mayor, a captain on the fire department wrote a letter to the editor about the upcoming election. about a day after, after termination of the captain was considered, he was domoted down to liet. i dont know about other departments, but here fire and police officers cannot participate in any campain rallies or even have a bumper sticker supporting a candidate.
                          2009 Warren County Firefighter of the Year

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            i may also note, although i do think the jackson mayor has done SOME good. but what i think is funny is that his number one concern is crime. all you hear him talking about is cracking down on crime. and since he has been in office the crime rate has gone up. he is also one of the few mayors i see walking around with a bullet-proof vest and a shotgun. speaking of which, i heard that jackson was supposed to be hiring about 100 more police officers???? you can go to the city of jackson website and look at job postings for the city. they are hiring everything from city road workers to police officers. however, they are not hiring firefighters, at least the website says so.
                            2009 Warren County Firefighter of the Year

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              And travel 180 miles south...

                              Firefighters launch PR campaign for better pay
                              8/22/2006, 3:29 p.m. CT
                              By BECKY BOHRER
                              The Associated Press

                              NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Firefighters here are planning a public relations campaign as they push a pay proposal union leaders see as key to helping boost morale and fill the department's reduced ranks.

                              Union leaders plan to propose a 10 percent, across the board pay raise for all firefighters, which they see as more in-line with what Mayor Ray Nagin recently proposed for police officers. The mayor has proposed a pay raise for starting firefighters, but union head Nicholas Felton Jr. says that's inadequate.

                              The issue is expected to come up Wednesday, when a civil service commission meets to consider the mayor's pay idea. The commission may approve or change the mayor's plan, before sending a recommendation to city council members, the city's deputy director of personnel said Tuesday.







                              "We are in a crisis situation," Felton, president of the New Orleans Fire Fighters Association local 632, told a news conference in front of Fire Station 7, which is still unusable nearly a year after Hurricane Katrina hit. "Our fire department has ruptured, we have a breach in the wall, and we've got to act now."

                              The city has fewer firefighters than it did before Katrina, leading to slower response times for available crews and creating safety concerns, both for firefighters and the public, Felton said.

                              Finding and keeping firefighters is also a growing problem: First-year firefighters currently make about $8.24 an hour, Felton said, noting prospects could earn more working at a fast-food restaurant or in another city. The union claims that, under the current pay plan, it takes a firefighter about nine years to earn $10 an hour.

                              According to information provided by the union, a New Orleans firefighter with a year on the job earns an annual base salary of $21,130. That's less than cities such as Wichita, Kan., Omaha, Neb., and Tulsa, Okla., according to the union data.

                              E-mail messages for representatives of the mayor were not immediately returned.

                              Tom Riddle, labor relations specialist for the state federation of the International Association of Fire Firefighters in Oklahoma, said the average entry-level base wage in that state is $23,000 a year to $25,000 a year. Recruitment, he said, hasn't been a problem, nor has turnover. Pay, benefits and hours are good, he said. Additionally, "you have public standing," he said. "They're America's heroes."

                              The privately funded PR campaign planned for New Orleans, dubbed "Come Hell or High Water," is set to include at least one billboard, Felton
                              IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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