Firefighters Local 108 Vote No Confidence in Chief Duggan
Editor’s Note: The following letter and resolution, issued in an April 27 press release by Michael Hatch, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 108, is presented here in its entirety for our readers. Chief Brian Duggan could not be reached for comment this morning. We’ll be following up on this story. — MCS
Mayor David Narkewicz
210 Main St, Room 12
Northampton, MA 01060
City Council President William Dwight
City Hall, Room 18 210 Main Street Northampton, MA 01060 April 5, 2012
On April 1, 2012 the members of Northampton Fire Fighters, IAFF 108 convened a special meeting for the purpose of a no confidence vote against Fire Chief Brian Duggan. After much discussion and consideration on the state of management in the fire department, the members voted by overwhelming majority to raise our concerns, and lack of confidence in Chief Duggan with city officials. The enclosed letter outlines our position. While the facts and beliefs presented reflect the significant problems within the department, we remain committed to providing the highest quality fire and EMS services.
Collectively, the Local has recognized that in order to continue to provide these services, administrative change needs to happen. The series of items that follow represent an accumulation of events, both fire and EMS related, that have put front line Captain’s and firefighters in an embarrassing and crucial position. Lacking faith within leadership, hope in our future as a respectable EMS provider, confidence in Chief Duggan to make key administrative and budgetary decisions, trust in how our business is being handled amongst neighboring communities and guidance to ensure success in our future has resulted in an overwhelming desire for the firefighters working in the city of Northampton to vocally request change.
We recognize the potential public impact this may cause and the importance of composure in the public’s eye. Because of this, we believe a discussion with city leaders would benefit all parties equally. We are very capable of presenting our case and as leaders representing the City of Northampton, you will benefit from hearing it.
We look forward to meeting with you do address these concerns.
Michael Hatch, President
Northampton Fire Fighters, IAFF 108
April 5, 2012
As the President of Northampton Fire Fighters, IAFF 108 I am writing to state that the fire fighters and Captains of the local have no confidence in Fire Chief Brian P. Duggan. It is embarrassing to me as the President of this proud local that this vote had to be taken, but the Chief’s actions, or lack there of, have left us no choice. This is only the second time in the 155 year history of the department that such a vote has been taken. Despite the best efforts of various union committees meeting with him, his administration, and elected city officials we have been unable to correct issues effecting public safety, and poor morale in the department. Over the years these committees were given a seat at the table, only to have their concerns disregarded. While, after considerable deliberation, we have taken this stance it by no means indicates an unwillingness to work collaboratively with the Chief and city officials in the future. The dedicated members of Northampton Fire Fighters, IAFF 108 take great pride in the quality of fire and EMS services we provide. And despite the strife faced daily by our fire fighters, and fire fighter/EMT’s there will be no noticeable change in the 911 services we provide.
Whereas Chief Brian Duggan has jeopardized the safety of the public, and fire fighters by dropping personnel from, or taking the downtown district engine out of service in favor of staffing ambulances and;
Whereas Chief Brian Duggan has drafted department polices that limit the availability of Ladder 1, which is the only apparatus with equipment able to reach the upper floors of buildings in the downtown district, which hinders fire suppression and rescue capabilities and;
Whereas Chief Brian Duggan has instructed shift supervisors to disregard the department policy outlining when to recall off-duty personnel during busy periods hence putting the health and well-being of fire fighters and the public at higher risk and;
Whereas in 2009 Chief Brian Duggan crafted an EMS plan that expanded services without properly analyzing the financial impacts of his decisions, and gave an ultimatum to the local to accept the plan or lay off 14 fire fighters. This lack of planning negatively impacted the financial state of the program and labor relations and;
Whereas Chief Brian Duggan has prepared budgets that cut the position of Training Captain who is responsible for continuing education in the department, he has also requested funding for a second Assistant Chief for administrative purposes and;
Whereas Chief Brian Duggan has neglected to budget for a replacement fire engine, and instead spent on unnecessary items such as: floor refurbishment, staff cars, extrication equipment, turn-out gear. He also mislead the city council as to the uses of acquired staff vehicles and state of department apparatus which wasted money during a financial crisis and;
Whereas Chief Brian Duggan has used his position as fire chief to respond to emergencies in other communities and submit for overtime compensation here in Northampton and;
Whereas Chief Brian Duggan regularly uses equipment issued by the City of Northampton to respond to calls in the Town of Westhampton that would otherwise not require a chief officer from an adjacent community, then submits for overtime compensation. While concerns of this conflict of interest were raised with Mayor Higgins in 2010, it has never been investigated or acted upon which contributed to low morale and mistrust in city leadership and;
Whereas Chief Brian Duggan is a 40 hour per week employee his payroll submissions do not correlate with the hours he is actually working. Furthermore his focus on personal career advancement and professional development interfere with his role of Fire Chief and;
Whereas Chief Brian Duggan is responsible for the budget and all fire department spending, he has abused his authority for his personal gains. Inappropriate expenses include: $30,000 for management training at Harvard, post-masters course work in Homeland Security and Terrorism and;
Whereas it is the responsibility of all fire chiefs to adhere to the terms and conditions outlined in collective bargaining agreements, Chief Brian Duggan repeatedly fails to abide by the agreement between the city and Local 108.
Therefore be it resolved that the members of Local 108, by overwhelming majority vote, declare no confidence in Fire Chief Brian Duggan. In the absence of immediate reform, or close oversight from the Mayor and City Council we respectfully request a letter of resignation from Chief Brian Duggan.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of Northampton Fire Fighters, IAFF 108,
Michael Hatch, President
Northampton Fire Fighters, IAFF 108