Vote No Confidence in St Lucie County Fire Chief, Buddy Emerson
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St Lucie County Residents,
On September 20th, 2017 during a St Lucie County Fire Board meeting a vote of "No Confidence" in our Fire Chief, Buddy Emerson was requested by the President of our local IAFF. Over 80% of qualifying union members, our first responders of the SLCFD, voted no confidence in their own fire chief before this item was submitted for the meeting agenda. (371 members qualified, 323 voted, 304 voted no confidence)
There is not a formal list of union grievances available to date but the most pressing items added to the record of the meeting were the chief's last minute decisions to reduce staffing levels during Hurricane Irma, to run our department with less manpower than advised in the standard operating guidelines and to send first responders home in personal vehicles when weather conditions were already deteriorating. These decisions not only violated minimum staffing guidelines and jeopardized our fire fighters, they also impacted the safety of our community.
Additionally, I had the opportunity to address the board and Chief Emerson regarding data collected supporting violations of 2016's standard operating guidelines during Hurricane Matthew. I brought forth allegations of negligence of his administrative duty based on this evidence and suggested that as a result of his poor decision making and failure to follow guidelines (primarily based on recorded sustained wind speeds) at that time the department did not fulfill it's duty to act to save my mother's life. Emergency response services were prematurely suspended preventing the dispatch of 911 calls and the life saving help needed.
These are very strong allegations that are fact based, informed and well documented. The chief has established a record of acting against his own administration's procedures and guidelines for hurricane disaster management.
It was the Fire Board's recommendation to delay the vote on the 20th requesting that the Union President present a formal written submission of grievances to be completed within 5 business days. At that time the board would then convene a special meeting within 10 calendar days to review the merit of the grievances and to determine whether or not a 3rd party investigation should take place. It is important to note that the board's attorney was asked about and stated that there are no current procedures that govern a vote of no confidence.
What the board suggests could belabor this process and spend unnecessary taxpayer dollars. The Fire Chief is an appointed, at will position. While his department must follow his lead his taxpayers are at the mercy of it.
The safety of our first responders is paramount. They and the citizens they protect deserve a department that is run with integrity, transparency and accountability. They are currently asking for it and our community should be as well.
Please stand with us and support a vote of no confidence in St Lucie County Fire Chief, Buddy Emerson. Let our Fire Board members know you support our fire fighters and my family in our demand for change!
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