City of Sparks firefighters today issued a statement of no confidence in their Chief, Jim Reid.
“During today’s Sparks City Council meeting, nearly 25 members of Sparks Firefighters – Local 1265 and their supporters expressed significant concerns about the state of the department and the safety of Sparks citizens,” they said in a statement to the news media.
They cited staffing, lack of resources and what they called a “lack of leadership.” They said staffing has not kept pace with population growth.
“This lack of firefighters has led to more than 11,000 forced overtime hours and many firefighters are working 80-hour weeks to ensure that fire stations are always staffed,” they said. “Decreased numbers and increased work hours have also led to a significant increase in response times where the national average should be 4-6 minutes to reach any part of the city.
“Currently, firefighters struggle to reach parts of the city in 12-15 minutes which can be tragic for someone facing a critical medical emergency.”
Of the 65 vacancies on the city’s staff, there are seven within the fire department, according to City Manager Neil Krutz. He said there are more vacancies in the police department – 21 – and that the city is working to fill them but also balancing competing priorities.
Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson said he had complete confidence in both Reid and Krutz and likened Sparks employees to a family.
“Sometimes families have disagreements on the way things should work. This can be caused by individuals being hyper-focused on the specific job they do each day and not seeing the bigger picture,” Lawson said. “That being said, I have no doubt that our firefighters are passionate about their jobs.
Lawson also said didn’t believe all of the claims put forth by the firefighters’ union in the meeting.
“We are vetting the information they provided to get the whole truth, and although I certainly don’t want to pick a fight with the union, we cannot sit by silently. We will respond to these accusations through the city manager’s office with facts, not emotions,” he said.
Reid said he was disappointed by what happened at today’s council meeting.
“I am extremely disappointed that union representatives have chosen to shut down communication with me and have instead decided to air their frustrations publicly,” he said.
The firefighters said about 85% of their membership supported the statement of no confidence.