1. #1
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    Post Largo--Fire Chief Drops 2 Top Aids

    Fire chief dismisses 2 of his managers
    The new chief and the city manager say performance was an issue with the veterans, who had good reviews. The union says changes were expected.
    By SHANNON TAN
    Published March 22, 2005

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


    LARGO - Two weeks after taking over as Largo's new fire chief, Jeff Bullock fired two top veteran officials, saying he's trying to "build a unified team."

    David King, a division chief since 1996, was hired by Largo Fire Rescue in 1978. David Morrin, a district chief in charge of emergency management and special operations, had been with the department since 1980.

    "I've been there 27 years, I've had excellent evaluations and an excellent record," King said Monday. "I'm in shock and I've done nothing wrong."

    King said that after Bullock fired him Thursday, he was told to leave immediately through the back door. King took several pictures of his family and was given a ride home by the deputy police chief.

    "It's humiliating to me to be terminated this way after 23 years of dedicated service," said Morrin, who was also asked to leave through the back door.

    Bullock refused to say what had triggered the firings, which were done before a restructuring that will be presented to the City Commission April 5.

    "There have been discussions with these employees on work performance issues," said Bullock, who fired them on Thursday.

    He declined to give details. "I won't talk about personnel issues," he said. "I'm not going to discuss what they did or did not do."

    A review of both men's personnel files for the past five years found no reprimands or disciplinary actions. King earned $75,108 while Morrin made $68,635.

    Bullock's most recent evaluation of King showed that he met or exceeded expectations in all areas. And Bullock wrote in Morrin's evaluation last year that "his willingness to meet the organization's needs is an example of loyalty and support for all employees to follow."

    City Manager Steven Stanton said he directed Bullock to create a management team that would respond to public safety needs in a post-Sept. 11 environment.

    "The Fire Department right now is a very good department," Stanton said. "Just being good is not good enough anymore."

    The firings are related to the department's performance, Stanton said. "(Bullock) needs to have a command group that can get the department to the next level."

    "I was told that our management styles differ and I couldn't agree more," Morrin said.

    Largo Fire Rescue is now left with two division chiefs and four district chiefs. Bullock would not say whether the two vacan t positions would be filled and said that could be part of the upcoming reorganization.

    After the firings, Bullock and his command staff visited the fire stations over the weekend to answer questions.

    "It is frightening," Bullock said. "This doesn't happen every day."

    He also issued a memo to the department. "I have been evaluating the department in its entirety, from its operational procedures, to emergency deployment objectives, to the effectiveness and proficiency of the line and command staff," he wrote.

    Union president Wayne Stokke said firefighters weren't too surprised by the terminations.

    "For the most part, some changes were expected," he said.

    King and Morrin were given 30-day severance agreements to bridge the period before their pension benefits kick in, Stanton said. Neither man was a member of the firefighters' union.

    Other changes have taken place since Bullock took the reins March 1.

    The department's only deputy chief, Tom Tarulli, retired March 15. The new deputy chief will need to focus on emergency management, Bullock said. Bullock, a division chief and a district chief will select the new deputy chief internally.

    --Shannon Tan can be reached at shtan@sptimes.com or 445-4174.

    [Last modified March 22, 2005, 01:21:16]
    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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    Fire chief's plan shuffles responsibilities
    The reorganization would deal with reduced command and staff levels that match those of 1992.
    By SHANNON TAN
    Published April 2, 2005

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


    LARGO - Two weeks after dismissing two top veteran officials, Largo fire Chief Jeff Bullock unveiled his new organizational structure.

    Since Bullock took over as Largo's fire chief March 1, two veterans have retired, two others were terminated and one was promoted, leaving the department with three district chiefs, one division chief and one deputy chief. Command staff levels have now been reduced to 1992 levels.

    Bullock came up with a new management structure to handle those changes.

    The proposal calls for the elimination of two district chief positions and the addition of a division chief and a logistics manager who would be responsible for the department's $14-million budget.

    The management team would be divided into four core functions: emergency services, which includes firefighting and training; life safety; emergency management; and logistics.

    Bullock said his goal is to streamline communications and give employees more ownership in the department. His plan will be submitted Tuesday to the City Commission for approval.

    City Manager Steven Stanton, who had instructed Bullock to create a management team that could respond to needs in a post-Sept. 11 environment, expressed his support for the chief's proposed restructuring in a memo to commissioners that was released Friday.

    Bullock says if the commission approves his proposal, he would then post the internal positions for logistics manager and three division chiefs. He discussed the restructuring with his administration staff Friday.

    He said he told them, "Let's try this, see how it works." The new structure will be evaluated periodically, he said. "They like what they see."

    Former Division Chief David King, who was terminated along with David Morrin, a district chief, said past reorganizations were much more sophisticated.

    "All they've done is taken the job responsibilities and shuffled them," King said. "With so many closed-door sessions and secret meetings, I'm shocked that it's as simple as it is."

    Under Bullock's proposed restructuring, King says his former duties - logistics, hiring, recruiting and internal affairs - will be spread out among several positions.

    "I believe the plan was in the making a long time ago about people's destinies," said King, who picked up his last paycheck Friday. "Some made their own decisions. Others didn't have a choice."

    Bullock, however, said the two dismissals were unrelated to the reorganization.

    Controversy first surrounded Bullock, 43, two years ago when then Chief E. Caroll Williams promoted him from lieutenant to deputy chief, bypassing senior district and division chiefs.

    Last year, Stanton scrapped a national search and appointed Bullock as fire chief, over Deputy Chief Tom Tarulli.

    "We're two different leaderships," Tarulli said. "(Bullock) wouldn't like my leadership and I certainly don't like his. . . . I don't like the pushiness, I don't like the intimidation."

    Tarulli, who said he spent the past 12 years trying to become the next fire chief, retired and moved to Nevada last month. He says he wishes Bullock well, but did not want to be part of a department that was headed in a direction he disagreed with.

    "I feel he (Stanton) chose friendship over education and experience," said Tarulli, who earned a bachelor's degree in business management from Eckerd College in 1999.

    Shannon Tan can be reached at shtan@sptimes.com or 445-4174.

    [Last modified April 2, 2005, 01:02:17]
    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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