1. #1
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    Post Florida Firefighters support police officer--Face Discipline

    Sun Herald
    08/14/02
    City firefighters face heat over Arenal


    PUNTA GORDA -- Some city firefighters could find themselves in the hot seat for showing their support for Punta Gorda Police Captain Butch Arenal when he faced a disciplinary hearing.

    On Aug. 9, Arenal faced a predisciplinary hearing to answer the charges against him. The 37-year-old police captain sat accused by Chief Dan Libby of failing to notify supervisors that an officer was investigated for alleged child abuse, as well as fraternizing with subordinates despite repeated warnings. No decision on Arenal's hearing has been reached yet.

    On the day of his hearing, a crowd of about 30 co-workers, city firefighters and other supporters gathered in the First Presbyterian Church parking lot across the street from City Hall to support Arenal.

    City Council members and City Manager Willard Beck are upset that fire trucks were used as part of the protest.

    Fire Chief Robert Naylor is launching an investigation of the incident.

    "At the time, I went to the on-duty lieutenant and asked if he was aware of what had taken place," Naylor wrote in a memorandum to Beck, dated Aug. 12. "Also if any other of the engines had any plans on doing the same thing, he was to call them and inform them to stay away from City Hall unless they were called for an emergency."

    Councilman Tom Poole said Tuesday he found the situation "intolerable," especially since the city had to borrow a fire engine while it made repairs to two of its vehicles. Poole told Beck he wanted to know who participated and what disciplinary action will be taken.

    Naylor outlined for Beck the steps he plans to take:

    * He will notify all employees that they may be charged with breaking city rules and regulations.

    * He will call and question each person on duty that day, as well as any firefighters who were at the church parking lot during the time of the event.

    Naylor also wants to ask Robert Amick, the union representative for the city firefighters, to excuse himself as the union representative, since he was reportedly part of the protest in support of Arenal. Naylor said he will ask the firefighters' shift steward or another representative from the union to fill in for Amick. Firefighters will also be allowed to have their own attorneys present.

    Because of the nature of the firefighter work shifts -- 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off duty -- Naylor suggested he may need seven to 10 days to complete his investigation.

    Beck stressed Tuesday that firefighters participating in the demonstration are not the problem.

    If they were off-duty, not in uniform and had driven their own vehicles to the demonstration, Beck said, "It wouldn't be an issue for us."

    You can e-mail Steve Reilly at reilly@sun-herald.com


    By STEVE REILLY

    Staff Writer
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  2. #2
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    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Stan, although the rules & regs are different over here to there, some things must be the same. I note from your report that the Chief is to question ALL firefighters that may have been in the vcinity of the town hall on that day. I assume ALL means off duty staff as well. I thought you had certain & well founded freedoms of movement over there, and if someone wants to be somewhere at a given thime, well, theres not much to be done about that. Also, the thing about asking the Union leader to step down/aside. Can he do that? If the Union leadership is elected by its membership, surely it is beyond the remit of the Fire Service to decide if he stays or goes, short of suspending him from duty, by which point I mean they could only suspend him from active duty, not from Union duty?

    The whole thing smacks of a witch hunt by the sounds of things, and will open more cans of worms than it closes.

    One fianl point. Why is'nt the Police Captain allowed to associate, presumably off duty, with his staff? As long as there is no inpropriety, then surely as they are another tight knit bunch, then this sort of thing should be ignored. after all, there are crimes to be solved in town I would imagine?
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

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    martinm...I guess he feels that since he is the Chief, he can ask anything he wants....The question is...Is the Union Leader obligated to do so?

    Here is the link to a story that appeared today or yesterday relating to the inquiry surrounding the use of the Fire Truck.

    http://www.newscoast.com/apps/pbcs.d...onCat=NEWS0105
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    City reprimands firefighters for Arenal demonstration
    Shift commander takes retirement over demotion


    PUNTA GORDA -- Support of city police Capt. Butch Arenal has cost a shift of firefighters a reprimand and led to the early retirement of their shift commander.

    On Aug. 9, Arenal faced a predisciplinary hearing at Punta Gorda City Hall to answer the charges against him. The 37-year-old police captain sat accused by Chief Dan Libby of failing to notify supervisors that an officer was investigated for alleged child abuse, as well as fraternizing with subordinates despite repeated warnings.

    No decision has been made on Arenal, but the city has released its decision of the on-duty firefighters who used the city's firetrucks as part of a demonstration in support of Arenal.

    City manager Willard Beck said Tuesday an investigation conducted by Fire Chief Robert Naylor and Human Resources director Gary Mundy showed that all three of the city's firetrucks were used in a demonstration at City Hall in support of Arenal.

    Beck also said the investigation found the firefighters' shift commander, Lt. Kerry Sanford, permitted the use of the firetrucks in the demonstration.

    For that, Beck said the firefighters on that shift will receive an oral reprimand that will be documented in their records.

    The city was ready to strip Sanford of his rank, but Sanford, a 28-year-veteran with the fire department, decided to retire rather than face a demotion. Sanford's final day with the city will be Oct. 21, but he's using vacation time until that final date.

    Sanford thinks the city has acted too harshly in his case.

    "I don't think the outcome fits," Sanford said Tuesday. "There was no crime. They tried to make it a crime, but there was no crime."

    On Aug. 9, Arenal saw a crowd of supporters that included some of his co-workers, off-duty city firefighters and other supporters gathered in the First Presbyterian Church parking lot across the street from City Hall. But what upset City Council members and Beck was that firetrucks were used as part of the protest.

    You can e-mail Steve Reilly at reilly@sun-herald.com


    By STEVE REILLY

    Staff Writer

    --------------------------------------
    --------------------------------------

    Related story from different paper

    Pressured city fire official resigns

    Punta Gorda fire Lt. Kerry J. Sanford refuses demotion over his alleged misuse of fire engines.


    By MICHAEL A. SCARCELLA

    posted 09/04/02
    PUNTA GORDA -- Three city fire engines passed by City Hall the morning of Aug. 9, sirens shrieking, horns blasting and lights flashing to the cheers of a crowd gathered outside the building.

    City Hall wasn't burning and there were no other emergencies in the area.

    Fire Lt. Kerry J. Sanford had authorized the drive-by, putting the community at risk by removing the trucks from their districts, said city fire Chief Robert C. Naylor, who conducted an internal investigation of the incident.

    Facing demotion to firefighter, Sanford resigned Tuesday.

    The crowd outside City Hall that morning in August was there to support police Capt. Albert A. "Butch" Arenal, whom the police chief is investigating for allegedly failing to tell his supervisors about an officer under investigation for child abuse.

    The dozens outside City Hall cheered the presence of the fire engines, Sanford recalled, but he said the three trucks weren't there as a show of support for Arenal.

    "We went by to see what was going on because everybody in the city knew something was going on," he said. "Every place we go, we get acknowledgment from the people.

    "The general public thinks we're a bunch of cowboys running around blowing bells and whistles. That's just not true."

    "To me, there was no crime. That's ridiculous. When we go by City Hall to wave and honk when the politicians are running for office, that's fine and dandy."

    City Manager Willard R. Beck phoned Naylor after the trucks went by to ask him what was going on. Councilman Thomas D. Poole, in a memo to Beck, called the incident "childish in the extreme."

    "It's all political," Sanford said. "They want someone's head, and it's mine."

    Naylor met with Sanford, who was then in charge of all three fire stations, and the six firefighters last week. The chief was investigating whether the incident amounted to misuse of city property.

    Naylor determined that it did.

    The chief said Sanford made a serious mistake in judgment by allowing the trucks to go near City Hall.

    "With all the publicity surrounding Butch, they should have known to stay away from that area," Naylor said Tuesday.

    "Unless there was an emergency, they shouldn't have been there. (His resignation) was the best move for the department, allowing us to get over this and move on."

    Sanford, a 28-year department veteran, chose to leave the department rather than be demoted to firefighter with a substantial pay cut, he said. Six other men, two on each truck, will receive oral reprimands, which will be recorded in their personnel files.

    Sanford was riding on a truck from Station 1, and gave permission for an engine from Station 2 to go to City Hall. A truck from Station 3 drove by because its crew was curious about the spectacle, Naylor said.

    None of the trucks should have been near City Hall at that time, Naylor said. The trucks from stations 2 and 3 were outside their districts. The city has three fire stations.

    A truck outside its district could take longer to respond to a fire call, Naylor said.

    "But there was no call," he said.

    The chief said trucks routinely leave their zones for training, fuel and food.

    "Does that happen on regular basis? Sure it happens. But that's when they need to be there. It's the other times you can't justify," Naylor said.

    Sanford, 51, said the Station 1 truck was conducting driver familiarity training on West Marion Avenue before it passed by City Hall. He said he wasn't aware the Station 3 truck was going by the building. The two firefighters from Station 2, Sanford said, were the only ones he gave permission to drive by City Hall.

    "Never was the city in any danger," Sanford said. "We could have responded to any location at any time. We were ready to go at a moment's notice.

    He said lieutenants decide training times and places for their firefighters -- the "standard operating guidelines."

    Sanford admits to one thing, though.

    "Everybody was waving and hollering, and we got a little overzealous of the noise-making," he said.

    "It doesn't seem like the punishment fits the crime, but that's the city. This is selective discipline. We never endangered the citizens, jeopardized their safety."

    This isn't the first investigation into whether a city firefighter misused equipment. An incident back in October 1999, Naylor said, was a little more egregious.

    Lt. David M. Johnson used a truck while he was on duty to hose down the lawn of a friend who worked in the lawn-care business. The area apparently had unwanted "herbicides and pesticides."

    "I did not respond to it as an emergency," Johnson said to the chief during an interview. "I would not try to wash down any materials that I thought posed a threat to the public."

    Johnson was asked to resign, but didn't. He was fired.
    Last edited by captstanm1; 09-05-2002 at 08:15 AM.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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