Information to the commission regarding losing our Chief and firefighters

In answer to Inquires 3. And 4.

White Springs fire chief, six other firefighters resign

By Alexis Spoehr alexis.spoehr@gaflnews.com Jan 11, 2018 3. Although there was ample time for Stacy Tebo to stipulate a Memorandum of Complaint regarding Chief Kevin Pittman, Stacy Tebo did so one hour prior to the January 9, 2018 council meeting.  The council members had not received her complaint in their council packets nor had Kevin Pittman received the complaint to review until the meeting started..  

See Addendum 7 – Tebo states that she had requested his resignation as Fire Chief, and that he could remain a volunteer if he wished on November 29, 2017.  She did this because she wished to avoid any public embarrassment caused by disciplinary action.  She stated, “knowing that any public records created for that purpose would certainly be publicized on a local blog”. ..   “I was also mindful that anything I created would become part of his personnel file which could be reviewed by potential future employers and anyone that wished to see it.”

Tebo also states that the Charter provides that only the Town Manager, town attorney and police chief are hired by the Council.  Again, the Charter does not discuss the Fire Department which technically has equal billing to the police department; therefore it should be under the auspices of the Town Council not the Town Manager, but currently the Charter has no mention of who is in charge.  Secondly all volunteers are approved by the council with a vote and our firefighters are volunteers.  My husband and I are probably the only volunteers to be denied even with extensive experience and educaton.   Stacy Tebo did accredit Andrew Greene for giving her the name of Kevin Pittman to be fire chief.

 

Chief Pittman organized an in-house course to get our volunteers certified.  The Town does not pay or reimburse our fire fighters to attend Fire College and for room and board so Kevin Pittman who had a previous certification as an instructor trained our firefighters so they could pass the 206 hour course.

 

Tebo’s major complaint relating to Kevin Pittman was that he was a CERTIFIED INSTRUCTOR until his certification expired on June 30, 2015 and he did not opt for the one year extension until 6/30/2016 because he did not take the 40 hour course.   Therefore instead of thanking him for what he had done personally with the fire fighters to assure they would pass, the Fire College did not accept Kevin Pittman’s signature.  As a result, one of the students who he assisted was fired by the Division of Forestry because the lack of certification.  Yet other Chiefs signed the certifications on Pittman’s behalf.

 

IT HAS NEVER BEEN REQUIRED THAT OUR FIRE CHIEF BE A CERTIFIED INSTRUCTOR AND THERE ARE NO SPECIFICS WITHIN OUR CHARTER.  NONE OF THE OTHER CHIEFS WERE CERTIFIED INSTRUCTORS.   PITTMAN ASSISTED THE FIREFIGHTERS WHO HAD NO MONEY TO PAY FOR THE COURSE AND THAT IS ADMIRABLE. The Town does not pay for fire school, nor for board or room while going to school, nor for fuel and gas used by volunteers and does not even provide required equipment in many cases.

 

Tebo also blamed Kevin Pittman for having major repairs completed on the newly purchased pre-owned fire engine in October before the Council had even approved the agreement.  She complained he ordered decals for the engine and removed the Windsor decals.  She was upset with him about the purchasing policy and although she apprised Mr. Pittman that he should maintain the pre-used fire engine, she was angry that she did not get the cost in advance.  $3,702.51 was required for repairs, mainly because of the Turbo which Stacy did not understand was essential to be repaired.  When she initially was asked by Kevin Pittman and Thomas Brazil, she told them to get the maintenance done and did not tell them to secure an estimate first.    Furthermore, if Thomas Brazil and Kevin Pittman did not tell Stacy Tebo that Windsor was having a title problem, the vehicle was still in the Town’s possession which is nine points of the law. 

Stacy Tebo did not have a copy of her complaint for Kevin Pittman but rather Rhett Bullard gave him a copy.  Mr. Pittman was given five minutes to read the complaint and essentially called it crap and resigned.   When there was a complaint made that a copy should have been given to Kevin Pittman in advance, Rhett Bullard said, he should have known what he did wrong.   Yet I am certain these charges were never communicated to him. Then the members of the fire department who were there stood up and Rhett Bullard told them they were out of order and we were done with Fire Department Business.  Thomas Brazil was the first to say My name is Thomas Brazil, I’m a Firefighter engineer for White Springs Fire Department and this is my resignation.”.

We were told that Andrew Greene Assistant Fire Chief would not allow the Fire Department to spend money even though they receive $17,000 from the County each year.  They required breathing apparatuses and Andrew Greene said such were frivolous or something to that effect.  He said Stacy would not provide it because we did not have money.  Then Stacy blamed Mr. Pittman for not securing a grant for breathing apparatuses when it is the Manager’s duty to coordinate and place together grant information.

Stacy Tebo and Rhett Bullard will do nothing to reimburse the firefighters, for fuel and use of their own vehicles.  This is a shame because they should receive a stipend each time they show up for duty, especially since they have to use their own vehicles to follow the fire truck since the second SUV is not available to them..

 

Andrew Greene uses the new SUV fire truck personally.  Not only does he receive $120 per month but all maintenance and fuel is paid for by the Town, even when he takes frequent trips to Tampa and he lives in Lake City.   This leaves other volunteers who have to catch up with the fire truck using their own vehicles which they maintain and for which they pay all costs of fuel.

 

When it comes to Stacy Tebo however, we will pay her legal fees with no applicable limit or cap; but we cannot allow the volunteers to use the fire truck for which the grant was meant for nor can we provide them with breathing apparatuses.  Yet Rhett Bullard gives her complete control and will not agree to mediating differences.

 

 

 

WHITE SPRINGS, Fla. — Seven members of the White Springs Fire Rescue, including Fire Chief Kevin Pittman, resigned at Tuesday night’s town meeting.

The resignations came after discussion at the December meeting in regards to Town Manager Stacy Tebo asking for Pittman’s resignation Nov. 29. Also during that meeting, members of the fire department asked for support in a vote of no confidence against Assistant Fire Chief Andrew Greene.

The council then decided to move the issues with the fire department to the January agenda.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Tebo submitted a Memorandum of Complaint against Pittman, providing each council member a copy.Several citizens asked for a copy of the memo as well as Pittman, who said he had not seen or heard of the memo.

“This document was created today and was finished right before the meeting,” Tebo replied.+ Pittman said: “Since it involves me I would like to be able to read through it.”

According to the memo, Tebo asked for Pittman’s resignation in order to avoid public embarrassment and keep disciplinary action out of his personnel file. Tebo added that when she asked for Pittman’s resignation it was just as chief, that he could decide whether to remain as a volunteer firefighter.

In the memo, Tebo outlined the reasons that led to her decision to seek the resignation, mainly stemming around attempts to get certification for the town’s volunteer firefighters.According to the memo, Pittman allegedly had told Tebo he was a certified instructor and with the help of another instructor would hold classes to provide certification for the firefighters.

Last summer, Tebo and Pittman had talked about recognizing everyone who earned their certifications publicly at a meeting, according to the memo. The recognition was rescheduled from June to July because not everyone had received their certificates. The recognition was held at the July 11 meeting.

However, Tebo states in the memo that she received a call from Hamilton County Emergency Management Director Henry Land on Aug. 2, stating one of the individuals was not certified and Pittman’s signature was not being accepted by the fire college.

Land offered Tebo assistance in getting students certified and could sign off on the certificates, according to the memo. Tebo told Pittman and he allegedly stated it would not be necessary.

In the memo, Tebo states she then looked further into Pittman’s previous employment and certifications where she found an expired instructors certification. It expired June 30, 2015, and was given a one-year extension to June 30, 2016.

While looking into his previous employment at Suwannee County Fire Rescue it shows he was terminated on July 12, 2012, and is stated on his resume that he worked with SCFR through July 2013.

“He was dishonest to me about his instructor certification,” Tebo wrote, adding “he was also dishonest on his resume.

“The integrity of the Town, the Council, and myself was compromised as we unwittingly participated in the deception.”

Also in the memo, Tebo documented issues surrounding the purchase of a fire truck from the Windsor Fire Department. The memo states that Pittman had spent money on repairs and decals for the truck prior to the council approving the agreement, also alleging that the repairs were done without her approval.

After given a chance to read through the memo and prior to the memo being read aloud at the meeting, Pittman resigned.

“I have been fired before and I have quit a lot of jobs, so effective right now you have my resignation as fire chief for this department,” Pittman said. “Tomorrow I will return the truck, personal items and the keys, my keys to the town.

“There is no point in going through this, this nothing but… crap. I’m just going to say it and I am not going to have my name put out there and walked on.”

Following Pittman’s resignation, six volunteer members of the department resigned as well.

“Hold on. We have moved on from the fire department, there’s no…” Mayor Rhett Bullard said before the six volunteers cut in stating: “Let’s just do this right then right now. If you’re going to move on, then we’re going to move on. My name is Thomas Brazil, I’m a Firefighter engineer for White Springs Fire Department and this is my resignation.”

Brazil was joined by Antonio Perez, William Register, Peter Shanks, Andy Stormant and Andrea Thompson in submitting their resignation, leaving nine members at the fire department as of Wednesday afternoon.

End of Article

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