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: (413) 587-1303
Glenda G. Stoddard, HR Director,
DATE: TO: FROM: RE: May 3, 2012 David J. Narkewicz, Mayor Glenda G. Stoddard Investigative Findings and Recommendations with Respect to Local 108's Complaints About Fire Chief Brian Duggan's Performance
I have reviewed the two page, undated document that was sent to you by Michael Hatch, Local 108 Union President, on April 5, 2012. The document contains a number of complaints/concerns about Fire Chief, Brian Duggan. I met with Chief Duggan and conducted an extensive interview to explore each of the points raised in this document. Extensive City documentation was also reviewed. Among the documents reviewed include the following key items: • 2007 -2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City of Northampton and Local 108; • May 2009 Side Letter Agreement between Local 108 and the City of Northampton; • The "Article 5: EMS AGREENIENT" dated 8/8/2009 • Committee on Public Safety Meeting minutesfor March 5, 2012, including 7 pages of related documentation; • Public Safety Committee Meeting Minutes dated December 5,-2011 with 6 pages of related documentation presented to the Committee including notes of Chief Duggan relayed to City Council; • Local 108 and City's Joint-Labor Management Committee Meeting Agenda for
March 6,2012, along with 3 pages of the Chiefs hand-written notes; • Northampton Fire Department's Policy #018, Recall of Personnel dated March 22,2012; -~~---~.~Fire-ehi-ef-BTian-:E>uggan'-s-cwrittenTesponse-to-aHegation---number-5-to-]iocaI--108's April 5, 2012 no-confidence letter, including 9 pages of budget development paperwork submitted by the Chief Duggan; • Ambulance Service Agreement between the City of Northampton and Town of Westhampton dated October 5, 2009; • August 3, 2010 letter from former Mayor Claire Higgins to Ms. Heather Issvoran in support of Chief Duggan's application to the Master's program in Homeland Security at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security; . • Chief Duggan's relevant payroll records; and • Chief Duggan's Employment Contracts with the City of Northampton. What follows are my findings and conclusion (each statement beginning with "Whereas ...." in the April 5, 2012 letter is identified as an "Issue" for the purpose of my investigation). Issue #1: Allegation: Local 108 claims that Chief Duggan has jeopardized the safety of the public and fire fighters by dropping personnel from the downtown district engine or taking the downtown district engine out of service, in favor of staffing ambulances .. Facts: Chief Duggan has 32 years of experience in the fire service and 24 years as a Fire Chief, 14 of which are as Chief of the City of Northampton. As Fire Chief for the City of Northampton, he is charged with running a full"service Fire Department and Ambulance Service. It is his job to determine the staffing and equipment needs of the Department. According to Chief Duggan, he employs industry "best practices" when making staffing and equipment needs. He explained that it is an industry standard to respond to the "call at hand" and this is the model of staffing and equipment distribution that he utilizes in his role as the Chief, Chief Duggan acknowledges that based on public safety needs that he has dropped personnel from the' district engine when ambulance calls have been made in order to staff ambulances.
Conclusion and Recommendation: Local 108 may disagree with staffing changes that have been made by Chief Duggan. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that these staffmg changes are in violation of the --l-aser-agreement-alld-ma*ing-the-se-shange-s-are--within-the--SG0f>@--0f-Ghie-f-I>uggaIl~s role. Chief Duggan affirms that his goal is to follow industry best practices wherever it makes sense. Making staffing changes based on the "call at hand" (i.e. the most pressing public safety need) appears to be operationally sound. The facts do not support a finding of misconduct and, therefore, adverse action is not recommended. Issue #2: Allegation: . Local 108 claims that Chief 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. Facts: The Chief recently worked with Local 10 8 to determine how best to staff the Ladder 1 truck, also known as the Aerial Ladder. Specifically, this issue was discussed at the Union's and City's Joint LaborlManagement Meeting held on March 6,2012. The Chief listened to the input of the Local 108 membership with respect to the Ladder 1 policy and then employed what he believed was the best practice given the resources available. When I interviewed Chief Duggan he explained that in the event the Aerial Ladder needs to be used in an emergency he prefers to have four staff available to operate the ladder. However, staffing the Ladder 1 truck with four firefighters at all times means that the Department would need to hire additional staff or eliminate an 'ambulance at a significant cost to the City. Because of this, the decision was made to staff the Ladder 1 truck with two firefighters at all times; If a call comes in, an available ambulance is .then called to the scene so that four firefighters are available to operate Ladder 1 if the ladder is needed. This is the practice used in other communities. Conclusion and Recommendation: Local 108 may disagree with the Chief s ultimate decision on how and when to staff the Ladder 1 truck. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that the Chiefs determination was inconsistent with best practices or one that hinders fire suppression or rescue
capabilities. The facts do not support a finding of misconduct and, therefore, adverse action is not recommended.
Allegation: Locall08 alleges that Chief Duggan has instructed shift supervisors to disregard the department policy outlining when to recall off-duty personnel during busy periods, placing the health and well-being of fire fighters and the public at higher risk. Facts: During his interview, Chief Duggan explained that there has been no change in the existing recall policy, nor has there been an instruction to ignore the existing policy. He explained that the Union's ongoing objection is that the Officers in Charge have been instructed to carefully review the situation before a tone goes out. It has been the practice that recalled members begin "paid time" at time and one half at the "top of the hour" in which the tone was sounded. Therefore, if a non-emergent situation is toned at 45 minutes into the hour it will net an added expense at no value to the City as the City is paying members before they are ever on-scene and able to provide support for the department response. When issues surrounding this policy arose, Chief Duggan explained that he clarified the recall policy and trained Deputy Fire Chiefs to better assess situations involving recall so that Department resources are used prudently. According to Chief Duggan, every emergent situation requires careful judgment. Supervisors were trained to better make these judgment calls about when a tone should go out in an effort to better manage Departmental resources. Conclusion and Recommendation: Locall 08 may disagree with Chief Duggan' s clarification about this policy, but there is no evidence that this clarification was in violation of the labor agreement or established policies or practices. There is also no evidence that this clarification was inconsistent with best practices. His clarification also appears to be operationally sound because instead of toning a recall immediately and incurring unnecessary overtime costs, the Deputies have been trained to fully assess the situation to make sure resources, both personnel and labor dollars, are utilized to their maximum benefit. The facts do not support a finding of misconduct and, therefore, adverse action is not recommended.
Issue #4: Allegation: ---bee-al--1-(}8-alleges-that-Ghie-f-Duggan-GFa-ft@d-an-EM-£-f>lan-that-g_xf>and~d-,-sgr-viG~s,---without properly analyzing the financial impacts of his decisions and that he gave an ultimatum to Local 108 that it accept the plan or layoff 14 fire fighters. Local 108 further alleges that this "lack of planning" negatively impacted the fmancial state of the program and labor relations. Facts: Labor negotiation history reveals that the EMS program was ajoint venture with the extensive involvement of Local 108 members. Not only did the firefighters negotiate with the City about how the program would develop but they signed off on the mutually agreed upon result of that planning. Although the Chief had significant input on the design of the program through the bargaining process, agreement to implement the program was made upon the ratification of the last labor agreement by the City and the Union. Moreover, the history of that program since its inception does not reveal that it is financially unsound. Last year the EMS program collected $2.1M in revenue.
Conclusion and Recommendation: Local108's claims lack merit. The facts do not support a finding of misconduct. It was the Union membership and the City Council that voluntarily approved the program after negotiations. Therefore, adverse action against the Chief is not recommended. Issue #5: Allegation: Local 108 claims Chief Duggan acted improperly with respect to preparing the budget for City Council. Specifically, Local 108 alleges that the Chief prepared budgets that cut the position of Training Captain who is responsible for continuing education in the department and that he has also requested funding for a second Assistant Chief for administrative purposes. Facts: The Chief confirmed that he did prepare a budget that cut the position of Training
Captain and that he requested funding for a second Assistant Chief. However, all budgets prepared by the Chief are developed under the direction of the Mayor. Due to budgetary needs, the prior administration instructed Chief Duggan that he would need ~ ---te-make-euts---and-that-a-new-eudget-weuld-net-ee-ael@-te-suf'f'eF1:-a-'};Faining-Gaf}tain.-. While the former Mayor supported the Chief in his request for an additional leadership position of a second Assistant Chief, Mayor Narkewicz has made it clear that he will not authorize an additional leadership position.
Conclusion and Recommendation:
Although the Chief prepares a budget, he does so under the direction of the Mayor for the City of Northampton. The Chief makes and/or refrains from making certain staffmg proposals in accordance with the Mayor's directives about the City's .anticipated proposed budget each fiscal year; Because the facts confirm that Chief Duggan has always acted within the scope of his .authority and upon the direction of his supervisor with respect to the budget, there does not appear to be any misconduct and no action is recommended.
Issue #6: Allegation:
Locall08 alleges that Chief Brian Duggan has neglected to budget for a replacement . fire engine, and instead : spent money on unnecessary items such as: floor refurbishment, staff cars, extrication equipment, and tum-out gear. Local l08 also alleges that Chief Duggan misled the city council as to the uses of acquired staff vehicles and state of department apparatus, which wasted money during a financial
In response to this allegation, the Chief responded that he has been advocating for a replacement fire engine since 2005. City records confirm this. Moreover, the expenses . that Locall 08 now characterizes as "wasteful" have been topics of discussion at Public Safety Committee meetings and at Capital Planning Meetings over the course of several years. The Chiefhas the responsibility to use his department funds judiciously and most of the items noted, including the staff vehicles, were approved through the Capital Planning Committee. Extrication equipment, tum-out gear and vehicles are all utilized for the safety of the public and the fire fighters.
Conclusion and Recommendation:
---Based on a review of the facts, it appears that most if not all equipment purchases have been made only after a careful committee review. There is no evidence of a lack of -~tfanspaFen(}y-c0r-aGUSe-0~13r0ee-ss-with-re-s13eGt-t0-the-s€-pUfGRaS €s.-Arld,in-faGt,LQ Gal 108 has had the opportunity to address and weigh in on concerns with respect to these purchases. Just because Local 108 disagrees with the Chiefs ultimate decision on purchases does not mean that the Chief has engaged in misconduct warranting discipline or termination. Given these facts, no adverse action is recommended.
Issue #7: Allegation:
Local 108 alleges that Chief Duggan has inappropriately used his position as Fire Chief to respond to emergencies in other communities and submit for overtime compensation here in Northampton. /
Contrary to the Unit's allegations, a review of relevant payroll records reveals that the Fire Chief has never received overtime pay for anything. The Fire Chief does respond to the scene when the Northampton Fire Department responds to other communities. The Chief stated that this is a common practice among Chiefs in this area. He explained that this is an established practice and helps to maximize resources to address the public safety needs for our neighboring communities and for Northampton.
Conclusion and Recommendation:
The overtime allegation cannot be corroborated and the facts do not support a finding of misconduct against Chief Duggan ..Rather, the facts support that the Chief has acted consistently with best practice among Chiefs when responding to mutual aid calls in surrounding communities. No adverse action is recommended.
Issue #8: Allegation:
Local 108 alleges that Chief Brian Duggan regularly uses equipment issued by the City of Northampton to respond to calls in the Town of Westhampton that would otherwise notrequire a chief officer from an adjacent community, and then he submits this work ,. for overtime compensation. While concerns of this conflict of interest were raised with Mayor Higgins in 2010, ithas never been investigated or actedupon which contributed
to low morale and mistrust in city leadership. Facts: ---- - - ~'Fhe-Gity-0f-N0rtham13t0n~has-a-seFV-iee-e0tltFaet-with-the-1'0\¥B.-of-Wgsthaml~ton,-whlGh~-was signed by former Mayor Higgins. The contract requires the use of Northampton equipment/resources when providing aide to the Town. Further, the Chief does respond to Westhampton emergencies in the same manner as he responds to other communities requesting mutual aide as outlined in the Facts section of Issue #7, above. As with the responses in those instances, he receives no overtime pay for responding to Westhampton emergency calls. Conclusion and Recommendation: The overtime allegation is unsubstantiated and the facts do not support a finding of misconduct against Chief Duggan. To the contrary, the facts support that Chief Duggan has acted consistently with best practices among Chiefs and in compliance with the City's contract with the Town of Westhampton. No adverse action is recommended. Issue #9: Allegation: Local 108 alleges that Chief Brian Duggan is a 40 hour per week employee and that 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. Facts: The Fire Chief is not a standard 40 hour per week position, but is rather a full-time City employee who holds a management position and with a negotiated Employment Contract. Because the nature of the Fire Department's service to the City is 2417 arid his role as a manager of the entire Department, he may be called upon 2417 to respond to public safety emergencies involving the Fire Department. His hours are often in excess of 40 hours per week. It should be noted that the option for the Chief to work a four (4) day work week has been included in his employment contract since he started in Northampton. With respect to the allegation. that the Chief s personal career advancement and professional development interfere with his role as Chief, there is no evidence that
Chief Duggan engages in career or professional development activities that are outside those permitted by his contract for employment with the City. In fact, it is the Mayor's job to supervise the Chief and the Chiefhas only submitted for time offto attend career - - - -- - -and-pf0fessi0Ilal-c-aetiv-itie-s-whieh-aF8--authefiz€d-l:>:Yc-his-€mpley:ID€nt-GentraGt .
Conclusion: This allegation is unsupported by the facts. The Fire Chiefis expected to work all hours necessary for this position and those hours would not necessarily reflect the hours he is present in the office. No adverse action is recommended. Issue #10: Allegation: Local 108 claims that Chief Duggan is responsible for the budget and all fire department spending and that he has abused his authority for his personal gains. Inappropriate expenses allegedly include: $30,000 for management training at Harvard, post-masters course work in Homeland Security and Terrorism. Facts: The training and professional development that Chief Duggan received at Harvard University Senior Executive program was in 2007 and expressly approved by thenMayor Higgins. The cost of the program, according to Duggan, was less than $10,000. A check of the current cost for this program is $11,450 and includes all course materials, housing and most meals. The Chiefis currently pursuing a Masters' Degree " in Homeland Security and Terrorism, a pursuit that required approval and input from his Supervisor, Mayor Higgins, in order for him to be admitted to the program. The Chief has had a "Professional Development" section in his employment contract since he started in Northampton in 1998 when his original employment contract was executed by then-Mayor Mary Ford. Conclusion: There is no evidence that Chief Duggan has" abused "his budgetary authority for personal gains. To the contrary, any expenditure by the City for his continued education were approved by the former Mayor and made part of his contract for employment, the terms of which the City of Northampton has a legal obligation to follow. No adverse action is recommended.
Issue #11: Allegation: -~ - - ~ - -~b0e-al~l-Q8-G-laims-that-it-th€}-F€-sf'0!1sigility-0f-all-frr~Ghlefs-to-adhere-to-the-tern:ls-and conditions outlined in collective bargaining agreements, it alleges that Chief Duggan repeatedly fails to abide by the agreement between the City and Locall08. Facts: The collective bargaining agreement between Local l08 and the City contains a grievance and arbitration procedure that Local l08 should use if it believes that the Chief is taking action that violates the terms and conditions of the collective bargaining agreement. To the extent that Chief Duggan has taken action that the Union disagrees with or it believes is in violation of the contract, the Union does avail itself of this complaint procedure. However, the record of the outcomes of the grievance and arbitration procedure does not show a pattern of Chief Duggan repeatedly failing to abide by the collective bargaining agreement between the City and Locall08. Conclusion: This allegation is unsupported by the facts. To the extent that Local l08 has a good faith belief that Chief Duggan has violated the terms of the labor agreement, it should be reminded to avail itself of the agreed-upon grievance and arbitration procedure within agreed-upon timeframes. In cases where the Union has filed timely grievances, the record does not evidence that Chief Duggan fails to abide by the collective bargaining agreement. No adverse action against the Chief is recommended. Summary: After investigation into the facts, it does not appear that Chief Duggan has engaged in misconduct or acted inappropriately in his role as Fire Chief. To the contrary, the evidence indicates that he has taken actions consistent with his job description and his contract for employment. On those issues in which Local l08 claims that the Fire Chief has made operational or staffing decisions contrary to public safety, it appears that he has made decisions based on best practices and often collaborates with Local l08 (e.g. the establishment of the EMS program was a joint venture that involved entering into a collectively bargained for agreement with the -Union prior to . implementation). There is simply no evidence to support Locall 08' s allegations that Chief Duggan has actually taken actions that jeopardize public safety or the safety of the fire fighters.
Further, in many instances complaints made in the no-confidence letter are attributable to actions of the Chief when, in fact, they are not decisions within his purview. In -----s0me-instanees-Esueh-as-the-evertim8-allegatienj,-tn€_Gity2s-f@G0f<::ls-mak@-Gl@ar-that-th@-----i Union simply does not have accurate information. Based on these findings, I recommend that no adverse action be taken against Chief Brian Duggan.
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