Resort Fire Dept. Mired In ‘Turmoil’; City Manager To Form Employee Focus Groups; Spouses Form Support Group

Resort_Fire

OCEAN CITY — Armed with concerns over hostile workplace conditions for Ocean City career firefighter/paramedics and deteriorating morale, a group of more than a dozen spouses has been formed to provide support and promote an improved direction for the city’s first responders.

The creation of the support group is the latest controversy to embroil the Ocean City Fire Department (OCFD), leading Chief Chris Larmore in an interview Monday to refer to the current state of affairs as “turmoil”.

In recent months, serious accusations have been made about the OCFD and its alleged culture of stress and negativity, including several grievances filed against leadership and recent decisions, but it was not until this week that the specific concerns were vocalized, confirming further these are tumultuous times for the OCFD.

In an interview last Friday, five spouses of veteran career firefighter/paramedics shared their support group’s mission and explained why they are banding together in the hopes of improving work conditions for their husbands. The support group currently has about 15 members and has met four times with future meetings planned.

“We strive to support the members of the Ocean City Fire Department’s Fire/EMS Division as they provide exemplary service and protection to the residents and visitors of the Town of Ocean City,” reads the mission statement of Fully Involved S.T.A.F.F. (Standing Tall Around Firefighters). “Through our efforts, we hope to promote positive growth and direction within the Division thus ensuring the safety and well being of those who serve as they serve others.”

The support group is actively seeking like-minded family and friends of the career firefighter/paramedics. In a letter to prospective members, the group detailed its general focus areas. They include “the hostile work environment, unnecessary and excessive stress, denied summer leave for family vacations, negative attacks in the press, potential schedule changes affecting livelihoods, departure and potential departure of qualified, tenured personnel due to current administration and state of department, questionable qualifications of leadership and elimination of special ops programs.”

The wives spoke to The Dispatch on the condition of anonymity as they fear “retaliation” against their husbands by the OCFD, which was created six years ago after a heated disconnect between the paid staff, leadership and the volunteers boiled into a city-wide controversy that included spirited comments from elected officials as well as business owners on both sides of the discourse.

Larmore, who had been the volunteer chief previously for two years, was the first chief of the merged group and has held the position since 2008. He accepted the job for an annual salary of $1 initially but has since been restored to an annual wage consistent with other city department heads. Today’s OCFD is now a combination volunteer and career member body, consisting of three divisions — the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company, the Fire/EMS division and the Office of the Fire Marshal.

“I think if the public knew how the men and women who take care of them are being treated, I don’t think they would stand for it. The public is being served and the people who provide that service are being treated like a doormat,” said the wife of a long-time firefighter/paramedic with more than 25 years of service.

Another wife of a veteran city firefighter/paramedic added, “We are willing to accept the stress of them risking their lives, but not an attack on really good people with lies. They have no means to really defend themselves, and that’s why we decided we had to do something. We have to do this because they can’t. This is disrupting our lives. We have men being taken to the hospital with chest pains over this. We have men crying in their counselors’ chairs with depression. We have men on medication. We have men yelling at their children on a regular basis because they have so much anger inside them over how they are being treated at work.”

Another wife said she fears the current culture will lead to resignations and retirements of the city’s veteran firefighter/paramedics. In fact, one long-time, high-profile member of the career team recently picked up his papers and is weighing resignation and retirement options.

“We are not a bunch of wet hens. This is not a bunch of mumbo jumbo. This is real life. There are fairness issues. It’s a stressful profession and we all know that, but what they have to deal with daily from the administration and the chief makes it unbearable,” that wife said.

Larmore takes exception to those characterizations of his department under his leadership and believes his primary responsibility as OCFD chief is to the taxpayers and that he operates his department like it’s a business. He cited the approximately $400,000 decrease in payroll costs that have been implemented during his tenure as evidence of that commitment.

“I understand some of my providers are not happy with me, but change is difficult. I’m sure some of the wives who met with you, their husbands have been here a long time and we have made institutional changes,” Larmore said. “Make no mistake, I am very concerned about my people. I stay up at night worrying about that. They are my family and I want the workforce to be happy and appreciate what they have. It has been a very difficult 90 days, that’s going into [union] negotiations, some of the rumors out there, two negative items in the press, so yes I’m very concerned about the general providers who are not in the union and how they are doing. I can’t be very concerned about the union because frankly if I’m concerned about the union I’m not doing the job that I was hired to do.”

The support group has reached out to several Mayor and Council members over the last couple months, including Councilwoman Mary Knight who said she plans to attend an upcoming meeting of the group.

“I will go just as a sounding board, and I will explain that I will relay their concerns back to the city manager and that will be my purpose,” Knight said. “My purpose will not be to resolve anything, just to relay it to [City Manager] David [Recor].”

Refusing to further address the group’s general statement of concerns, such as the employees being treated as a “doormat” reference, Larmore wanted to focus on specific concerns the group had, singling out several of the wives’ bullet points, such as the issue of summer leave being denied for staff. Larmore said it’s a current city policy for staff to not take vacations during the busy summer season and the OCFD adopted the policy in December of 2011. That policy arose during the tight economic times that led to department staffing decreases. In the case of the career firefighter/paramedics, Larmore said seven positions had to be eliminated, representing approximately 20 percent of the career division.

“The basis was this is a resort and from Memorial Day to Labor Day it’s all hands on deck. You need everyone you have because staffing requirements go up,” Larmore said. “Going into calendar 2012, I issued a reminder to not plan on taking leave in compliance with the city’s policy manual from Memorial Day to Labor Day. We gave everybody notice last year and this year, and now all of a sudden it’s bad for morale that you can’t take off in the middle of the summer when your kids are out of school. When you were hired here, that was a priority here, as it is with many of the city departments. Now I’m the bad guy and being difficult, and I have a guy going to the city manager about it and his wife coming to you, despite the fact it’s a city policy and we made an exception last year but wouldn’t do it again this year. My priority is having guys on the road responding and providing service the public expects.”

OCFD Sees Recent Spike In Grievances

Larmore’s leadership discretion has come under fire in recent months over a recent promotion process that led to a grievance being filed arguing the process was not properly carried out.

Trevor Steedman, a long-time career firefighter/paramedic, was promoted to captain in December 2012, but a second promotion of a female lieutenant, Kathleen Hartley, to captain also took place. It was this second promotion that bothered many within the fire department, but the grievance filed was reviewed by Larmore and Recor and no wrongdoing was found.

While sources indicate Steedman was almost a certainty for the spot due to his seniority and experience, Hartley’s promotion surprised many of the rank and file. Although the wives took exception to the promotion for a variety of reasons, it was the process that irked them.

“Nobody knew there was a second position. There was no list as to who was in line for an acting captain position, even though they had not posted that there was this position in the first place,” one wife said. “The process is indicative of how the department is being run currently. There are so many questions and when they are expressed, people are being called liars and bashed.”

Larmore referred to the four-month promotion process as “detailed and fair”. He said the second promotion of Hartley was endorsed by city leadership and carried out as a result of high-ranking leaders within the department approaching retirement in the near future.

“Our command staff with the exception of one person can actually retire in less than three years, so my approach was to promote two. There was never any intention to mislead anybody. It was done purely in the spirit of succession planning because when we looked at the dollars it could be done within the existing budget,” Larmore said. “There was nothing deceitful here. It was very good succession planning in my mind, and the city manager and council approved it. I felt at the end of that process there were two people well suited and qualified in terms of succession planning to lead this department.”

A complaint was reportedly filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the Town of Ocean City over the promotion and the workforce’s alleged response that it was linked to inappropriate and unprofessional relations between certain personnel. The nature of that complaint is sealed, but the EEOC did confirm receiving the complaint last month.

While the status of that process is unclear at the moment, Miles & Stockbridge, a labor law firm, will be briefing the Mayor and Council in an upcoming closed session on the findings of “an internal inquiry” that relates to a “personnel-specific situation”, according to Recor. Sources indicate that report is linked to the EEOC complaint.

“We made an inquiry based on the allegations that were made, and they will be giving the council an update at an upcoming closed session. The inquiry is complete,” Recor said. “That’s about as much as I can say generally without going into specifics.”
Of that probe, Larmore said, “There is an internal investigation between the workforce. That’s over my head and it involves the workforce. I hope we get resolution to that sooner than later.”

More grievances involving recent decisions have also been filed, but the town of Ocean City rejected this publication’s Freedom of Information Act request last month to view all of the grievances. The city referred to them as “personnel records” that will be included in the employee’s individual file and would not be released. One such grievance not released involved a member of the staff approaching the city manager with a concern and subsequently being disciplined for violating the chain of command, according to Recor.

A grievance that was released by the city to this paper involving “watch duty” was filed by the local chapter of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF). The IAFF Local 4269 filed the “unit wide grievance” on Nov. 9, 2012 in response to changes to the watch duty policy instituted on Nov. 1, 2012 by Deputy Fire Chief Chuck Barton.

The policy changes were reactionary to an emergency call being missed as a result of firefighter/paramedics being asleep in an area where there reportedly is no alert. Numerous sources have confirmed the call was missed, although no tragic consequences occurred and a delay time of approximately six minutes reportedly occurred. The call incident along with other “unacceptably high response times”, words Barton used in a memo obtained by this paper, sparked a policy change.

That led to the union’s grievance, which sought the removal of two changes — one that specifically stated where career personnel were not permitted to sleep and another mandating one member of the crew be awake and “shall perform “Watch Duty” between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. The grievance sought a work group to study and review current response policies to prevent future delays. The union felt the changes Barton instituted violated the 2010-2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the city and the IAFF and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).

Larmore rejected the grievance, saying in a letter to IAFF Local 4269 President Michael Maykrantz dated Nov. 22, 2012, “I believe the requirement of one person to remain awake and alert is reasonable.” Additionally, Larmore penned there is language in the SOP agreement that states the commanding officer has the prerogative to “consider the needs and duties of their shift before allowing personnel to occupy beds.” Recor confirmed he upheld Larmore’s rejection of the grievance.

Larmore said the policy that required at least one firefighter/paramedic to be awake at all times stayed in place until Jan. 17 when new alert systems were approved. Currently, all stations and staff are now alerted of each call through a system-wide alert and secondary pagers.

“They slept through two calls and that’s unacceptable. A mistake was made and the mistake needed to be corrected. I am the one who had to answer to the family that had the delayed call. That’s not a telephone call that I want to make it again. The Ocean City Fire Department, as a whole, regrets that we did not live up to our own standard, and that standard is obviously a timely response,” Larmore said. “’Watch duty’, meaning someone and it didn’t have to be the same person had to be awake at all times, was suspended Jan. 17 after the safeguards were put in place, including 20 additional pagers that were purchased. When it goes off, you are going to know it. Now, every single EMS call sends out a signal through these pagers. The compromise with the union was they can sleep, but they need to be ready to provide a timely response and I think these changes allow that and the public expects that.”

City Manager To Hold Private Meetings With Staff

Within the next month, as a result of the ongoing issues within the OCFD, Recor plans to meet with members of the department to hear their concerns. Recor said this morning no members of the command staff will be permitted to attend those focus group sessions.

“It actually emanated from the ongoing issues and I really want to hear from department members,” Recor said.

Last month, Recor met with members of the command staff, including the chief, the captains and lieutenants, to discuss issues the department was currently facing as well as other innocuous business matters.

“I wanted them to know that I’m going to listen to the concerns of our employees, and I committed that day to meet with each of the platoons minus management and to listen to their ideas, suggestions and concerns,” Recor said. “I want them to share their ideas, suggestions and concerns without fear of any kind of repercussions, and I want to listen. As city manager, I will be able to discern what is a bargaining unit issue and what is something that needs to be addressed at the management level. I think that resonated with a number of employees and leadership and they were very receptive to the idea.”

Recor requested the face-to-face time to hear the specific concerns and address them with a goal to improve the operation of the OCFD.

“I feel like it’s my responsibility as city manager to be responsive to concerns raised by the employees. I am trying to get to the bottom of things. To the extent that my management and oversight of this organization can make it a better place to work … I want to make that contribution. We all have minimum expectations, and I want the fire department just like every other department to be a well-managed department where the employees can come to work and do their job and feel safe and comfortable in a good working environment,” Recor said. “I’m all ears and am going to listen and want to know how we can do better and move in the right direction.”

Chief Believes Union Impacting Relations

During an interview on Monday, Larmore reported not a single grievance was filed with the city in the first four and a half years of his chief’s tenure, but there have been as many as five filed over the last five months. He suspects many of the grievances might have been a union ploy in advance of contract negotiations, which wrapped last month with both sides expected to sign the new accord this month.

“There are times when they have animosity of management instead of animosity with the council, which is who they negotiate with. There is going to be differences between union and management, that’s a reality,” Larmore said.

Larmore believes the recent uncertainty regarding union contract negotiations could be playing a part in the discord among the staff and families. He believes once the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is officially inked some concerns will be relieved. The current contract expires June 30.

“They are senior people and they are simply not used to it. At the end of the day, most of the people who are positive and have a high morale they are unaffected. I don’t like what’s happening. I don’t like hearing this. We are making improvements,” the chief said. “When this contract gets signed, that’s going to take a lot of it away. They are going to be happy with the outcome, knowing there were not significant changes.”

The wives were unanimous in saying their concerns are not rooted in pay and benefits issues. Each admitted not being privy to union contract details, reporting instead the support group was formed as an outlet for spouses worried about their husbands going to work in an unhealthy environment.

“This has been smoldering ever since Larmore took over. It’s to the point now where it’s just a major disruption. Something needs to happen,” one wife said. “Many of the guys are like, ‘get me the hell out of here’. I can’t take it anymore. If we had lateral moves, many would have done it already. It’s always been a tradition for the kids to follow in the fire background, whether it’s as a volunteer or as a career. Now, no way anyone is going to allow their kids to come back here and work. Absolutely no parts of it … they see their fathers worried over getting fired and the stress has changed them. These are broken men.”

Another of the wives involved with the support group reiterated, “The formation of our group is not about pay and benefits. We are thankful they are employed, but we want to see changes for our families’ sake and others. There needs to be a return to respect for each other and that’s not presently there between the chief and our husbands.”

Larmore still believes the union is influencing relations between the command staff and the personnel, referring to the timing of the recent grievances compared to the previous four-plus years without any grievances filed.

“I don’t know that many organizations that have a union-management form of operation is going to have a cordial relationship. The employees are part of my team and part of my family, but I have a fiduciary relationship to the citizenry,” he said. “I have to provide that service as economically reasonable as possible. That flies into the face of any union. Therefore, it’s difficult for anyone to say we are always going to be on the same page.”

Controversy Not Impacting Public’s Safety

Despite their differences, Larmore and the support group agree on one key element — the public should not be concerned about the safety amid the current “turmoil” within the OCFD.

“We absolutely feel there is absolutely no reason for the public to feel they are not being protected by these men and women. They are as professional as you get.  They are heroes to us, but they are human and we need to protect them…” a member of the support group said. “We need to provide them the support they deserve because they do not deserve what they are getting now.”

Those interested in joining the support group are urged to email fullyinvolvedstaff@gmail.com or write 37232 Lighthouse Road, Suite 167, Selbyville, Del. 19979.

Larmore encouraged the support group to bring their specific concerns to him. 
“Get them to my level. Once they come here, if I don’t address them, then let’s go on record and address them,” Larmore said.

29 comments on “Resort Fire Dept. Mired In ‘Turmoil’; City Manager To Form Employee Focus Groups; Spouses Form Support Group

  1. Having worked with the OCFD, I have great respect for these men and women – from the EMT Basic to the Command Staff. Well trained, well led, well functioning organization.

    Oh my Ladies, if your husbands were looked down on before, you have no idea the lack of respect everyone will have for them now.

    Someone once said something like, “When you stir up sh__, it just stinks more.” Good job Mr. Green in stirring up sh__. But know also that the smell’s on you (your paper) too.

  2. The ladies did not act on their own….did there boys think this was going to make them look “special” in the eyes of the public? Feel sorry for them, cry with them…pass the tissues and join the Ladies Aux. Wait they are strong women (that can hold their own) in that group.. oh heck just put them in a play pen in day care!!!! Justsayin said it right you thought no respect before this, surely none now. They might just want to come forward with all their doings, throw the towel in now….because the truth is on its way out. then you will be in “TIME OUT”!!!!

    I do want to say I feel for the reporter of this artical, I think you were trying to do the right thing getting this information out. But it is so much more involved than what you have reported. This is important information that you did put out but more will come.The answers you are looking for are in Berlin. It all ties together.

  3. YOU KNOW BOTH SIDES OF THE FIRE DEPT KNOW THE REAL TRUTH AND NOT ONE OF YOU ARE WILLING TO HAVE THE STONES TO STAND UP AND TELL IT YOU FORGET WHEN THE ONE SIDE WAS G0ING TO TAKE THEIR TOYS AND GET OUT OF TOWN
    THEN THEY O.C. MADE CHRIS CHIEF AND THE S-IT HIT THE FAN WITH THE HELP OF JAY AND HIS CLOWNS SINGLING OUT THE PAID PEOPLE EVERYTIME THEY GOT THE CHANCE AND LETTING THE OTHER SIDE GO ON LIKE NOTHING HAPPENED
    WHILE YOU HAVE ME GOING CHRIS THE UNION DID NOT FILE GREIVANCES BEFORE THEY JUST TO TRIED TO GET ALONG THEN YOU STUCK IT SO FAR UP THE BOTTOMS OF MOST OF THE PAID THEY ARE FINALLY COMING OUT AS THEY SHOULD HAVE FROM THE START SO LETS QUIT THE SHOW YOUR TRYING TO PORTRAY AS THE GOOD GUY NOW YOU WANT TALK ABOUT HOW TO RESOLVE IT AS YOU SO HUMBLY SUGGESTED THEN LET THE GREIVANCE PROCEDURE PREVAL LET THE REPS OF THE UNION DO THE JOB THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO AND PRESENT IT IN THE GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE AS IT SHOULD BE NO LETTING PEOPLE COME TO YOU AND LET FALL ON DEAF EARS ITS TIME TO WAKE UP COUNCIL AND HAVE THEM DO WHAT IS RIGHT

  4. The 37232 Lighthouse Road is a rented box in the postal store next to Smitty McGees in Delaware. Also, the correct zip code there is 19975.

    I think the bus driver’s wives should organize next!

  5. Most of you on here know of no truth to this matter. The truth is that you have a unqualified Dept Manager running a field of work that happens to be the most dangerous line of work. A chief that will not comply with a FEMA requirement of using the NATIONAL INCIDENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM. Morale is at its lowest. Personnel cannot talk in fear of retaliation, Personnel are always on their toes that they will be disciplined for coughing, dont take that so literal. And yes, some employees are upset that they cannot take a family vacation during the summer. Guess what, the Chief said he implemented that in 2011. These employees were hired years and years before that and never had that issue. So yes, they are upset. What if any of your employers came to you and said, you know what, your working christmas, all of you, every year. I dont care about your family, but we need you to work christmas even though we have enough personnel to fill those spots, your working it anyway. Hey fellow citizens, do you know how many days a month the department runs out of ambulances because the management will not put up an additional unit. DING DING DING, this leaves you unprotected until one of the ambulances gets back from the hospital. Furthermore, do you know how many of those calls are in west ocean city where the department does not staff an ambulance but takes one from within the city? Literally, this is just the tip on the iceberg, and you better dive down to see how much of it is underwater, because when you do, I promise it will sink the entire ship.

  6. Address today’s issues. A promotion, a watch duty, a missed call, contract negotiations, unthinkable actions by a few members of the union, discrimination and EOC violations between the Fire Fighters, not management. The fact most of the same people involved are also in Berlin Fire Department. At the end of the day, the strong will become stronger, the loyal more loyal, and the dedicated more dedicated. There is a lot to understand here, more than most can see. I hope Mr. Green continues to dig, and those like you will become exposed. The rest have nothing to fear, nor have they been so “stressed” to affect their home life. Bring it on, we look forward to meeting with Mr. Recor.

  7. With all due respect Steven, as monstrous as your article is in size – many of us including yours truly are wondering why you failed to mention the cat that was killed and left at Chief Larmore’s house by 1 or more of these wives’ husbands?

    Whatever that was supposed to symbolize or signify, there were 2 criminal acts committed during this incident by these shameful husbands that you should have included in your article.

  8. I want to provide this open forum as best as we can under certain limitations. Regarding the allegation of the “cat”, there is no proof — police report, photo or else — that has been produced to me to show that it in fact happened. As of today, I do not believe it occured and no proof has been put forward to prove it. That’s why it was left out of our article because there is no research to substantiate that it ever happened. If it occured, I believe the first thing any of us would do is file a police report or document through a photo. To my knowledge, neither took place as of this point. If anyone has proof it occured, please let me know. At this point, I believe it to be a rumor.

  9. I am retired. I have read this article a few times and have thought about this flow awhile. I can not reflect back any time during my working career that I would have needed to have my wife form a group to help me deal with my work issues. If they have a group for men because this seems to be just ref to men. Why put in the paper that your men are crying, yelling, depressed….why. If they are so stressed out from their jobs then they need to look for a new line of work. Firefighting is not for everyone. No shame move on and get something a little less stressful. This sounds like something that they make tv shows about. This is beyond not liking your boss. It is even sounding like coworkers are not on the few men’s side. 90 percent I think someone wrote did not feel like this other group does. So it must be something with that little group. Also why keep ref to berlin?

  10. Just a quick note to address what may be a concern. The previous comments have not been removed. When our website flips over to the current week at 12:01 on Fridays, the content is updated with the “new” articles for the week, as in those stories that are in the print edition. Your comments remain archived in the story that was published online and released on Wednesday, but unfortunately they cannot transfer to this article today. We apologize for the inconvenience.

  11. I believe the Kathleen is the only female command Officer in Ocean City Public Safety, both Fire and Police. She can expect this from dinasours who are retired on duty. There is alot of muted support for for the next generation of educated officers.

  12. It’s commendable that a few EMT’s that work within the department are taking a position against the “wives club” and the union. The department as a whole is very professional and competent. No group is perfect, and when the “5′ husbands can’t have it their way, the women got involved.

  13. Sorry real support but there are a lot more people who are qualified to be in that position, not taking nothing away from her . Actually maybe the person who makes that decision should go get some training of his own.

  14. My Lt. posted this, but it was before this addition. Please reprint, it speaks of the truth. Thanks

    I am a dedicated long time career Firefighter Paramedic in the Ocean City Fire Department. Many (most) of us are not supportive of the Union, or this new ‘wives club’. The majority of us did not agree with the Chiefs selection for Captain, however, to promote the first female to a command position was not going to be easily accepted in any organization. I am very ashamed of actions of a few, and ask that everyone understand, this is not representative of our Division. We will continue to provide the exemplary service we always have, that you can count on. These other issues are growing pains, and will soon fade away

  15. I bet this does have something to do with the guy who works in OC and caused a problem as a volunteer in Berlin!! I bet it does!!! Wifes, get your husbands’s mental health help, stay out of the work place

  16. I agree with the comments of ‘RETIRED’ about wives having to defend their husbands. If my wife was ever involved with a group comparable to the 1 these women formed, I would feel ashamed, foolish, and humiliated.

    I also agree with ‘REAL SUPPORT’ and her dinosaurs comment. We are not living in the Fred Flintstone Era and these ‘Dino The Dinosaur’ types set in their ancient and obsolete ways need to accept and embrace change instead of trying to resist and fight it. This especially applies to ‘POSITIVE MAJORITY’ who needs to accept that we are living in the 21st Century and to start learning to accept females being promoted to command positions.

    Congrats to Mrs. Hartley! She should be proud of her achievement that she most likely worked long hours and very hard to earn. May she set an example for other hard working women to follow in her footsteps!

  17. I find it repulsive that a credible newspaper would allow such vague accusations to become so newsworthy, without requiring the accusers to state their names. The premise of their concern of retaliatory actions against their husbands is completely baseless in today’s world with EOC protections. What’s not baseless, is a couple of their husbands are guilty of exactly what they are accusing the Chief of. You state that there are grievances and actions unavailable due to personnel reasons, I doubt these ladies want those to be released. The minute any of us read this article, we know exactly who they are, and their motives. This has caused once again, a undeserved negative perception of our Department. Thanks Ladies, all we want to do is get back to work

  18. Steve, appreciate the behind the scenes insight of automation. You are your staff need to be commended on the excellent service you continue to provide our community!

    ~BUSHMAN!~

  19. what’s next? the real firefighter housewives of OC? is the wives club going to assist the IAFF in negotiating the next contract?

    and seriously…what stress? these petty issues are all swirling around a few people. it smacks of being above the rules and being entitled.

    every one of us on my shift today (3/8) in a large midwestern urban fire/EMS department sat around and read this article (printed off and distributed department-wide by our batt chief). i went to school in Baltimore and could barely suppress a facepalm when i realized it was OCMD. is this what 21st Century progress looks like on the eastern shore?

    way to go, OC. airing your embarrassing (silly) dirty laundry in the press for the entire world to see. you’ve managed to portray yourselves as the 2013 poster child for a dysfunctional emergency services organization. not to mention your statewide loss of prestige among other departments and probably that you’ll be the punchline for jokes in firehouses around the nation for at least a few weeks.

    sarcasm here: on behalf of hundreds of thousands of firefighter/EMT’s and medics across the US, let me thank you for all you are doing to enhance the image of career, professional fire/rescue providers.

    hey union: failing to meet minimum response requirements by sleeping through a call (and then complaining/whining about watch duty)? really? your foot or mine to stuff in your mouth?

    hey chief: a last minute promotion that was blessed by the city leadership as “detailed and fair” to meet future needs? really? that says to me you have your own promotional list in mind and merit board promotions are a charade. you’ll probably get nailed to the wall, and cost OC tens of thousands in legal fees. did you or city administration really think this through and run it by legal first? i’m guessing no. epic fail.

    garbage in = garbage out

  20. Just read the article online from tomorrow’s dispatch and read some of the comments That have been written .1 To the members of the council who are friends of mine on here don’t believe half the bs that comes out of the mouth of a certain employee of yours. 2 There is pay back in the fire dept and don’t let anyone say otherwise, some will say its sour grapes on my part but people know the real truth. 3 the women have a very valid and true concerns you can ask a certain woman on 141 st by the name of Emma the stuff she dealt with for the many years I was there. 4 it’s about time the city to do a search for a fire chief who meets the qualification that have been written for the position , not one who couldn’t even get hired part time there. 5 Address the need for the boss to adopt Nims so maybe he could understand how to work together with other division within the city.

  21. The boys that has their wives support group are in the 40year range….. To me that sends lots of red flags up. Why are we allowing these few men and their wives make the fire service look so bad. Employeed in OC and vol in Berlin….read Berlins problems. This is the one and the same. If you have cancer you get treatment to get rid of it….just saying.

  22. Bright Lights Big City

    I would ask that you believe, as several of our members have expressed, this is not a fair representation of the Career Division. The overwhelming majority no longer support the IAFF Local, and had no idea this “wives club” was being formed. Regarding the grievance in response to the missed call, guilty as charged. We made one mistake out of thousands of calls. What hasn’t been said, is the fact the dispatch center totally failed in their responsibility to confirm the call was acknowledged. Should there have been a grievance filed, absolutely not. The Deputy Chief was 100% right in his decision, additional safeguards have been put in place to make sure it never happens again. We as a collective group, want to do the job, that we take great pride, and has been recognized as one of the best in the State of Maryland. We and are extremely upset with the actions of a very small group. Your comments about the promotional process is tainted. I was one of 5 tested for the position, it was a difficult, however fair. It was also stated on several occasions that it was reviewed by legal council, and the HR director was present throughout. BTW, I was unsuccessful, but rather than throw the mud over the last 4 months, I have focused my attention on doing better next time. Maybe some others should do the same. Thanks for your interest and comment, please reconsider your opinion of our Department and the fine men and women that serve.

  23. I am following this story… you have let people signal Kat Hartley (even though it is in a positive light) by name. Did you check with her to find out if that was ok!!! BUT you protect the womens support group by leaving their names out. If they have to hide…then it is not worth listening to…it is just another form of gossip. I am so ashamed to live in Wor Co, have a husband in fire service and to have to hear this “Trash”. Why are we even enteraining this mess. What makes the famous five so special!!!! Next thing you know we will have 60 minutes doing a report. WOW, we can go from the White Marlin capital to the Baby Capital . Now the mid west is laughing about this…and so many more.

  24. I’m with Tired Of Lies.

    Most of us area residents who are not City employees of OC are Sick And Tired of the drama that Ocean City’s employees create on a constant basis. Some of us were once a part of this unhealthy environment and have lived it. We are much happier now that we no longer are.

    Not all city employees are part of this dramatic group, but too many are. To whom this may concern, let me remind you people that you are supposed to be mature adults, but most of you constantly act like immature children. Some act worse than children. Professionalism, morals, and integrity are seriously lacking in your work environments while an abundance of back-stabbing, cheating on your spouses, and gossiping, are seriously problems.

    Most non-city employees are appalled with your outrageous salaries. Most work much harder at half the rate. They perform their jobs in a professional manner, respect each other, and don’t talk trash about their co-workers behind their backs. Many of you city employees should do the same. In addition to your production level increasing, so will your character.
    Be nice to each other, respect each other, and strive to settle arguments in a civil and peaceful manner. It’s ok to be angry. What’s not ok, is to be cruel. Get rid of the hate. I guarantee all of you that you will be happier and less stressed. You will also not need to rely on drinking alcohol excessively to cope, you will be nicer to your children, and you will not cry to your counselor.

    Be thoughtful and try to speak kindly and positively. Even though your tongues are a teeny part of your body, you utilize them with evil intentions and create destructive circumstances that are irreversible and unfixable. This mess you created as a group is most likely another one of those circumstances.

    Let me close with a Bible verse below that all of you women should read. It may influence all of you to become not only respectful women, but also respectable women. I also recommend you reading Galatians 5:22-23.

    “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
    The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
    ~James 3:5 & 6

  25. The above comments show people have seen things that justify actions taken by HR. To me it all boils down things have been done, actions taken because of it. Now when things do not go your way you complain. OCFD is not alone with these issues. They are just allow a small group make them look bad. Which is the same thing Berlin has allowed. The only real issue it is the same one in berlin. I think it shows that sone of s are trying at this time to do right. Maybe berlin will follow suit. Long time member of fire co…breaks my heart. Had great pride in fire fighting /emt.. But this is so sad. This might not make it to print but why are we allowing a few yo give the Eastern shore abad name…How many remember when we were called the S- – - – of the Eastern Shore? How they took an out house to Annapolis. Well we have dropped way past those days again. Come on let’s do right not let a few make us look bad. Worcester co was becoming alive again.how safe are people going to feel hearing this mess. Our firefighters are yelling, depressed, screaming…..no I think I will vacation else where this year. Find those men a new career…go to the one stop job market in salisbury…great place wonderful resource. WYFC great place for family counseling…get the children in…but we need to treat people staff….with respect, and not allow hostile work places, not allow bullying on jobs, not allow name calling, not allow some some to be teased for what some think their sexual orientation is. Let us clean this mess up, give no more thought to the wives, clean house if you need to….this has gone on way to long and to far. Let us try and save a little face and bring people to oc this summer and help our people get employed this summer….and forget this small minded stuff.

  26. “Learn the Truth”
    The Chief does practice NIMS compliance, why don’t you or Steve Green ask for copies of the plan and paperwork from hurricane Sandy. Right away, you along with the other 5 lose credibility with the remainder of your accusations. I was in the same class as the Chief, NIMS 100, 200, 300, 400, 800 update. The summer leave policy was not made by the Chief, again your allegations have no merit, as well as your credibility. Lets throw everything on the wall and see what sticks. Running out of ambulances all the time, West Ocean City calls, ask for the facts Steve, and leave the cry babies behind. Everyone’s tired of the “moral, poor us”. You make $100,000 year, sleep all night, get a real job.

  27. I just read all the comments, and I plead for this consideration: This entire ordeal is such a negative reflection on our Department. Please as you review all the comments, as an unbiased and intelligent citizen, please consider the following: The OCFD is a large family, and as such we have a few members that share different opinions, just like any large family. However, as the majority, this is not what we represent! This majority would never have our wives or family speak on or behalf, or fight our battles. Many of us are questioning the true merits of the IAFF affiliation. The Chief is the leader of the entire department, and does not have an easy job keeping several hundred people together, but in his defense, name just one time he has not kept his word, or denied our input or suggestions. You want me to forward the e-mails from the IAFF stating “we have a good relationship”, I will, and how about his willingness to meet with us, anyone really want me to share everything, because I will. Most of us are really tired of the games! As a group of professionals, I plead to all, lets show everyone what we are, a group that takes our profession very serious, and serves the public with the very best of training, knowledge and integrity! One more thing, lets stop the negative attacks on our Council members and management, it doesn’t represent the majority, we would rather be seen as Joe Metricic views us. Regarding Kat, best of luck, you earned it!

  28. Other than the on duty Lieutenant yesterday (Saturday), morale is actually getting quite better, considering everyone now knows the root of the problem. Funny, he was trying to dampen spirits by saying how unfair everyone was treating the wives, With his wife being the head “hen”, no wonder. I agree with the other commenter’s, this was very unfortunate, and resulted from a very small group. On behalf of C and D shift, we look forward to getting back to work, and hope the public forgives us for our minor shortcomings. I love the analogy of the family that sometimes has a difference of opinion, at the end of the day, we are still a family.

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