1. #1
    Forum Member
    stm4710's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,713

    Thumbs up Man who missed 911 call fired

    Man who missed 911 call fired



    By Andrew Hickey
    Staff writer




    PEABODY A Peabody firefighter who slept through a 911 call nearly two months ago was fired yesterday.

    Firefighter John Brophy Jr. said last night he received a termination letter from Mayor Michael Bonfanti at his home around 5 p.m. The letter was left between his front door and storm door, Brophy said.

    Brophy said he plans to appeal his termination to the state Civil Service Commission.

    "The city has not heard the last of me," he said. "I'm going to fight this tooth and nail."

    Bonfanti did not return a message left at his home last night. Bonfanti's wife, who answered the phone, said the mayor would not discuss his decision until today.

    Fire Chief Steve Pasdon, reached by cell phone last night, also would not confirm the termination.

    "Any action the mayor has taken to that effect would have to come from the mayor's office," Pasdon said.

    Around 3 p.m. yesterday, however, the mayor said through a secretary that he hadn't come to a decision. But Brophy's lawyer, John Burke, said last night that his client had been fired.

    "This whole fiasco is devastating to me," Brophy said. "I gave the Peabody Fire Department seven years of my life. I love this job. To see this slowly disintegrate before my eyes is devastating. I'm not here because of the paycheck. I'm here because I love being a firefighter."

    As the city's appointing authority, Bonfanti can uphold, increase or decrease suspensions handed down by the fire chief or call for a firefighter's termination. Bonfanti met with Brophy and others Monday to talk about recent disciplinary actions taken against Brophy.

    While neither Brophy nor Burke would discuss the content of the termination letter, they said Brophy's firing stems from Brophy's two recent suspensions.

    On April 4, Pasdon suspended Brophy for five days for missing a March 10 911 call for a baby struggling to breathe. Brophy, who was working in the fire alarm center as a dispatcher, was reportedly sleeping on a department-issued cot when the 911 call came in just after 1 a.m. As a dispatcher, Brophy was responsible for answering 911 calls transferred from police headquarters and in charge of sending firefighters to emergencies throughout the city.

    Pasdon has said that Brophy missed nearly a dozen calls from ambulance personnel and police during the 20-minute period that followed and woke up only after police officers drove to the Lowell Street fire headquarters and pounded on the door. Police and ambulance personnel responded to the call for the sick baby, who was taken to the hospital and treated for croup.

    In the days that followed the missed 911 call, Brophy said he apologized several times and admitted his fault. The chief, however, has said that Brophy was unapologetic.

    "I feel horrible about the whole situation," Brophy said. "I was upset about it. I'm not making any excuses. I was asleep. I missed the call. It was one call. But I stood up like a man and admitted it."

    On April 15, Brophy was issued a second five-day suspension for his role in an altercation outside of a burning Endicott Street building owned by his father. Brophy was not on duty during the March 11 blaze and reportedly had to be physically removed from the scene after a confrontation with Fire Capt. Eric Harrison. Pasdon said Brophy was suspended for failing to follow orders from a superior officer, insubordination and hindering firefighting operations.

    A week after the fire, Brophy filed an assault complaint against Harrison in Peabody District Court. A clerk's hearing on the charge is set for tomorrow, when a clerk will decide if there is enough evidence for a criminal complaint to be issued against Harrison.

    Burke said he is eager to argue the case before the clerk.

    "We're very confident that facts will come out," he said.

    Both Burke and Brophy said they had asked the mayor to wait until after the clerk's hearing before taking action against Brophy, to avoid tainting the clerk's decision. But Bonfanti did not.

    "What's most disappointing to us is that we asked the mayor to hold off on making a decision positive or negative until after Thursday's hearing," Burke said. "But the chief had an agenda to hurt Jack Brophy and the mayor rubber-stamped it."

    Brophy had also been suspended by Pasdon last summer for five days, and by Bonfanti for 30 days, but details of that suspension have not been released. Brophy declined to discuss that suspension, citing privacy issues and a pending hearing before the state Civil Service Commission.

    Despite the recent disciplinary action taken against his client, Burke said he and Brophy "don't feel the mayor had valid grounds for termination."

    "Here's a guy who gave the better part of six, seven, eight years to serve the city and he finds out in a letter at 5 o'clock that he's been terminated," Burke said.

    Brophy also took issue with how he was notified a letter left stuck in the door.

    "That's just disgusting," he said. "At least have the common decency to call me into one of your offices."

    Brophy painted a picture of a Fire Department rife with internal problems, where firefighters are afraid to speak out for fear of being punished.

    "I stood up for what I believe in and they didn't like that," Brophy said, referring to the assault complaint against Harrison. "This whole situation is spiraling out of control. The morale at the Fire Department right now is in the toilet."

    A recent rash of suspensions illustrates that, Brophy said.

    The same day Brophy was suspended for missing the 911 call, Pasdon suspended Capt. Henry Hogan for also failing to answer the call. Hogan was supposed to act as a backup.

    Then, last week, Pasdon suspended Deputy Chief Paul Hinchion, reportedly because he wrote and hand-delivered letters to Bonfanti in support of Brophy and Hogan. Hinchion has said his suspension letter indicated he was punished for insubordination and failure to follow the chain of command. Pasdon has declined to discuss Hinchion's suspension.

    Pasdon has said that the negative attention is "certainly hurting morale" but noted that "sometimes things have to get worse before they get better."
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  2. #2
    Forum Member
    stm4710's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,713

    Default

    Whilst I agree with the fireing, I think the letter in the door is the sign of how unliked he was and a chicken **** thing for a department to do.
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    Dave1983's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Gator Country
    Posts
    4,157

    Default

    I wouldnt agree if it was based soley on missing the 911 call. Sounds to me like they have a very antiquated system if someone can sleep through a call. They should have something more then just a phone as an alert. The other incident, thats another story.
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

    IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

    "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
    RUSH-Tom Sawyer

    Success is when skill meets opportunity
    Failure is when fantasy meets reality

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber
    mcaldwell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Panorama, British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    3,022

    Default

    We discussed this in the original thread, and again I tend to agree with STM on this one. The letter in the door was tasteless, but overall the boot was probably appropriate.

    I do agree that the system there is clearly inadequate, but even with that in mind, I cannot imagine a dispatcher having a sleep schedule without a relief dispatcher being assigned. If that is indeed thier department policy, and they don't have a central bell or other notification system adequate to wake a sleeping crew, then the Department and it's Management need a swift boot in the *** too.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

    IACOJ

  5. #5
    55 Years & Still Rolling
    hwoods's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
    Posts
    10,739

    Angry Ain't This Just Wonderful......................

    This IS 2005, right? A single person, a firefighter, on duty as the whole Fire Department Dispatch System? What in the He** is wrong with these people? In Maryland, Each County has a single Countywide Dispatch Center for taking 911 calls and dispatching Fire, Rescue, and EMS. Law Enforcement uses the 911 PSAP, but does their own dispatching after that. We have to operate that way. It's the Law. I think Maryland was the first state in the nation to MANDATE the use of 911, Statewide. It sounds like the problems in that area go far beyond a missed call though. STM, please keep us informed.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    301

    Default

    Nothing wrong with getting rid of the "bad apples", but the city needs to address this situation permanently with modern day communications. I also think they need to brush up on their people skills when it comes to terminations. A letter stuck in the door?

  7. #7
    Forum Member
    DaSharkie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Posts
    4,713

    Default

    hwoods,

    You will never, let me say again NEVER see a county based system anywhere in Massachusetts. I can only think of a handful of regional dispatch systems too.

    The fire departments all want their own dispatchers, the police departments all want their own dispatchers, and everything is so freaking behind the times that it isn't even funny.

    I'm willing to bet that the fire chief, and past chiefs, have tried numerous times to get the system upgraded, but it was never approved due to "budgetary constraints."

    Either way, the guy should be disciplined, the system overhauled, and the loser who decided that the letter should be placed in a friggin' door should be dope slapped. Absolutely nuts.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

    The borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 - Debt free since 10/5/2009.

    "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." - New York Judge Gideon Tucker

    "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." - Dave Barry

    www.daveramsey.com www.clarkhoward.com www.heritage.org

  8. #8
    Forum Member
    stm4710's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,713

    Default

    Mayor defends firing of firefighter



    By Andrew Hickey
    Staff writer




    PEABODY Mayor Michael Bonfanti yesterday stood by his termination of a Peabody firefighter who slept through an emergency call in March, saying he had "solid reasons" to send him packing.

    "We had a hearing, and based on the information that was presented, we felt all the charges were substantiated," Bonfanti said of his firing of firefighter John Brophy Jr.

    Bonfanti met with Brophy and several others Monday to discuss a pair of recent suspensions handed down to Brophy from Fire Chief Steve Pasdon. Around 5 p.m. Tuesday, Brophy said he found a letter wedged between his home's front and storm doors notifying him he had been fired. Neither Bonfanti nor Brophy would provide a copy of the letter or discuss its contents.

    The mayor also disputed claims from Brophy and his lawyer John Burke that terminating Brophy was Pasdon's agenda and that Bonfanti "rubber-stamped" it.

    "I make the final decision," Bonfanti said. "If anyone knows me they know I base it on the information and facts that are presented. It was my call. Period. I make the calls."

    Bonfanti said he felt he had just cause to fire Brophy but wouldn't discuss the reasons. He said it's the first time in his tenure as mayor that he terminated a member of the Fire Department.

    Brophy had been suspended by Chief Pasdon once last summer and twice last month. Pasdon did not return phone calls yesterday.

    The details of his summer suspension, which Bonfanti increased from five days to 30 days, have not been released.

    But on April 4, Pasdon suspended Brophy for five days for missing a 911 call for a baby struggling to breathe. Brophy was working as a dispatcher and sleeping on a department-issued cot when the call came in just after 1 a.m. March 10. As fire alarm operator, Brophy was charged with answering 911 calls patched through from police headquarters and responsible for sending firefighters to emergencies throughout the city. A firetruck did not respond to the call, but police and ambulance did and the baby was taken to the hospital and treated for croup.

    Police banged on the door of the fire alarm center and were able to rouse Brophy after he failed to answer nearly a dozen phone and radio calls from rescuers.

    Less than two weeks later Brophy was again suspended for five days, this time for his role in an altercation outside of a burning Endicott Street apartment building owned by his father. Brophy was off-duty when he went to the March 11 blaze and reportedly had to be physically removed from the scene after a confrontation with fire Capt. Eric Harrison. In that suspension, Pasdon accused Brophy of failing to take orders from a superior officer, insubordination and hindering firefighting operations.

    Brophy has filed an assault complaint against Harrison in Peabody District Court, and a hearing is set for today. After the hearing, a clerk will decide if there is enough evidence for a criminal complaint to be issued against Harrison.

    Burke said yesterday his client is "devastated" by his firing and is eager to have his side heard in court.

    "It's going to be another step for Jack (Brophy) to move forward," he said, "another step for him to try and get his job back."

    Brophy said he was "disgusted" he was notified of his firing with a letter left in between doors at his home. Bonfanti said typically termination letters are served in hand, but he left that duty to Pasdon, who passed it off to a deputy chief.

    For now, Brophy has vowed to fight his termination "tooth and nail" and said he plans to appeal to the state Civil Service Commission.

    As the city's appointing authority, Bonfanti can uphold, increase or decrease a firefighter's suspension or fire him. From there, firefighters can either request the matter go into arbitration or appeal to the Civil Service Commission.

    Both Burke and Brophy said that the firing was the result of a "vendetta" Pasdon has against Brophy. The mayor, however, called Pasdon a "solid leader" and credited him for running a "solid fire department."

    "In any organization you're going to have a percentage that are a problem," he said of a recent rash of suspensions within the Fire Department. "I think Peabody has a top-shelf fire department. We want to make sure that we maintain that standard."

    Along with Brophy's two suspensions, Pasdon last month also issued suspensions to Capt. Henry Hogan and Deputy Chief Paul Hinchion. Hogan was suspended for his role in the missed 911 call, while Hinchion was reportedly punished for writing letters to the mayor in support of Brophy and Hogan.

    In the wake of the missed 911 call, however, Bonfanti said the city will evaluate the Fire Department and see if policy changes are necessary.

    "Everything is under constant review," he said. "We always try to make things more efficient and more effective."

    However, the mayor said, any changes would have to be negotiated through the firefighter's union, which is often time consuming.

    "When change takes place, sometimes there's resistance," Bonfanti said.

    Brophy, however, said the cot he was sleeping on when he missed the call was still available and that another missed call could easily happen unless major changes are made.

    "It's still a problem," he said. "The same thing could happen again."

    Firefighters who work the overnight shift as a dispatcher typically sit in the fire alarm center alone for 14 hours, from about 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. The deputy chief, who is assigned to an office right next to the command center, is supposed to answer the phone if the dispatcher doesn't answer the call.

    Since the 911 call was missed in March, Pasdon has installed two additional phones that ring in different parts of the Lowell Street fire headquarters in case both the dispatcher and deputy chief don't pick up the line.
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  9. #9
    Forum Member
    DennisTheMenace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Washington, DC/Northern Virginia
    Posts
    3,717

    Default

    Sleeping on the job, when you are not supposed to should be a fireing offence no matter what the job/position. It is really that simple.
    Be for Peace, but don't be for the Enemy!
    -Big Russ

    Learn from the mistakes of others; you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

  10. #10
    Forum Member
    stm4710's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,713

    Default

    It might be worthy to note that Peabody only is Civil Serivce to get on da job. Officer ranks and promotions do not follow CS guidelines.
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  11. #11
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Salem, Massachusetts
    Posts
    422

    Question

    Originally posted by stm4710



    In the wake of the missed 911 call, however, Bonfanti said the city will evaluate the Fire Department and see if policy changes are necessary.

    [size=large]IF[/size] policy changes are necessary? I think it's obvious.



    Brophy, however, said the cot he was sleeping on when he missed the call was still available and that another missed call could easily happen unless major changes are made.

    "It's still a problem," he said. "The same thing could happen again."

    Are you kidding me? They got rid of the FF but kept the cot?


    Firefighters who work the overnight shift as a dispatcher typically sit in the fire alarm center alone for 14 hours, from about 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. The deputy chief, who is assigned to an office right next to the command center, is supposed to answer the phone if the dispatcher doesn't answer the call.
    Regardless, the call was missed. Suspensions without pay are completely justified, but fired? Why did the city provide the cot in the first place? What did they think the FF would use it for?

    Since the 911 call was missed in March, Pasdon has installed two additional phones that ring in different parts of the Lowell Street fire headquarters in case both the dispatcher and deputy chief don't pick up the line.
    Wow. This guy is a genius. Talk about too little, too late.
    Caffeine is the key to motivation!

  12. #12
    Forum Member
    stm4710's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,713

    Default

    Court clerk rejects complaint against fire captain



    By Julie Manganis
    Staff writer




    PEABODY A fire captain acted properly and should not be subject to criminal charges for removing an off-duty firefighter from the scene of a fire, a Peabody District Court clerk magistrate ruled yesterday.

    The clerk said that Peabody fire Capt. Eric Harrison made a "reasonable" decision when he moved firefighter John Brophy Jr. away from a burning building on March 11.

    Brophy had filed an application for criminal charges of assault and battery against Harrison 10 days after a fire that destroyed an apartment house owned by Brophy's father. Brophy said Harrison yelled at him, grabbed the collar of the old fire coat he was wearing, shoved him against a car and head-butted him with his helmet.

    Harrison, through his attorney, said he was only acting to move a visibly shaken Brophy out of a dangerous "collapse zone" at the side of the house when he grabbed him and moved him down a driveway. Harrison also said in a report that he believed Brophy was planning to enter the burning home, an accusation Brophy denies.

    Peabody District Court Clerk Magistrate Kevin Finnegan sided with Harrison.

    "It was a reasonable (decision) made by the captain that it was a dangerous place to be, and his actions do not warrant the issuance of a complaint," Finnegan said.

    Finnegan said he found no evidence, other than Brophy's testimony, that Harrison deliberately hit Brophy's head with his helmet.

    Harrison and his lawyer praised the clerk's decision and said Harrison now simply wants to move forward.

    "My client holds no ill will toward Mr. Brophy," said lawyer Matthew Machera. "This is an unfortunate situation where my client pretty much did what he had to do to save Mr. Brophy's life. I hope this puts an end to this."

    But Brophy's attorney vowed to appeal the decision to a judge, immediately placing an order for an audiotape of the proceeding so that he could prepare a transcript.

    "We most definitely will pursue an appeal," lawyer John Burke said outside the courtroom.

    It will be yet another legal fight for the embattled Brophy, who was fired earlier this week by Mayor Michael Bonfanti after two suspensions last month, one of them over his actions at the fire scene and another for missing a 911 call about a sick baby.

    Brophy is appealing his firing.

    Brophy's lawyer said he still believes Harrison's actions were unjustified. Burke said Brophy had ultimately complied with Harrison's order to leave the area and was walking away when Harrison left a rookie firefighter alone manning a hose to walk after Brophy and confront him.

    "Jack complied with Capt. Harrison's order, and there was no justification at all in his actions," Burke said.

    Harrison's lawyer had a different view, saying "all Capt. Harrison did that day was his job."

    "I think the facts are clear that Capt. Harrison committed no criminal offense," Machera said.

    The hearing lasted about four hours over two days and included testimony from firefighters and fire Chief Steven Pasdon, who said Brophy "looked extremely upset and wild-eyed," with bloodshot eyes, at the fire scene.

    Pasdon said Brophy made threatening comments toward Harrison and demanded that the chief investigate Harrison for assault. Pasdon responded by asking Brophy to file a written report.

    Pasdon said he spoke to Harrison moments later, and the captain did not appear to be upset. He told the chief he had asked Brophy to leave, then "moved him out for his own safety."

    Burke, during the hearing, tried to convince Finnegan to consider letters from three other firefighters who described four alleged incidents involving Harrison acting "abusive and very threateningly" toward them, what is known legally as prior bad acts evidence. That kind of evidence is not always allowed to be used during a criminal case because it is considered prejudicial.

    Finnegan rejected Burke's request, which Machera called "outrageous" and "an attempt to smear a good man."

    Clerk's hearings are typically closed to the public to protect the privacy of someone who has been accused but not formally charged. But Finnegan, in response to a request from The Salem News, opened the hearing to the public, saying there had already been widespread publicity about the allegations.




    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  13. #13
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    236

    Default

    I thought the purpose of an emergency dispatcher was to be alert and awake. Why would they issue him a cot to sleep during his shift? May as well close the firehouse at night.

  14. #14
    Forum Member
    cellblock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    St Gabriel, La
    Posts
    708

    Default

    The mayor also disputed claims from Brophy and his lawyer John Burke that terminating Brophy was Pasdon's agenda and that Bonfanti "rubber-stamped" it.
    Talking from personal experiance, once you get on the bosses S**tlist you might as well start looking for another place to work.

    As for sleeping through a call, I've seen it happen. Our VFD has one or two paid people manning the Main station at all times. I've seen where the 911 center set off the pagers and the paid guy was at the station sleeping in the bunkroom and didn't wake up until a volunteer had come from home, cranked the first out pumper and driven out of the bay.
    One FF had so much trouble waking up when the pagers and radios at the station went off that his wife, a volunteer, would call the phone at the station when her pager at home went off. So, let me get this straight...he couldn't hear the screaming pager and the 800MHz radio on the table right next to the bunk at the station but he heard the phone ring? I hated working shifts with this guy. You had to literally kick him out of bed sometimes and then wait on him to get dressed since he slept in nothing but his drawers (tighty-whiteys).

  15. #15
    Forum Member
    BCmdepas3280's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Posts
    873

    Default 20 years in a similar system

    I Have worked for the last 20 years in a system just like Peabodys alarm center( we call it nite phones)We have a cot in the room and we sleep. There have been no instance where anyone has slepted through a call.....and yes I have slept in the room and have answered all the calls ....its not a bad system its just an old system ...like the alarm boxes. We have just recently switched to a county wide 911 system and they are the most unprofessional people I have ever delt with ....If there is a chance for a major F...Up it is going to come from these people. For the record the guy from Peabody sounds like a major tool.
    IACOJ Membership 2002
    {15}

    Mike IAFF

    The beatings will continue until the morale improves

  16. #16
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default Re: Ain't This Just Wonderful......................

    Originally posted by hwoods
    This IS 2005, right? A single person, a firefighter, on duty as the whole Fire Department Dispatch System? What in the He** is wrong with these people? In Maryland, Each County has a single Countywide Dispatch Center for taking 911 calls and dispatching Fire, Rescue, and EMS. Law Enforcement uses the 911 PSAP, but does their own dispatching after that. We have to operate that way. It's the Law. I think Maryland was the first state in the nation to MANDATE the use of 911, Statewide. It sounds like the problems in that area go far beyond a missed call though. STM, please keep us informed.
    Does anyone in the State of Maryland realize how far ahead of the rest of the country your state is in terms of the delivery of emergency services? From the MSP to the county FD's, you guys do it right.

  17. #17
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    163

    Default

    I've worked the lonely dispatch system as mentioned....its like that in the military. Usually after the airfield closes the night dispatcher goes up. And that's it. All alone. They can go to sleep but they're responsible for the phones. During the day they're usually up there all alone too. BUT they can call down to the section leader's office (I guess one of the civilian officer's equivelants) and ask for relief for a bathroom break or chow break or to get some fresh air or something. Leaving someone there AT NIGHT for 14 hours ALONE is an ignorant decision. If the cot was there....then that might as well be an invitation unless an SOP stated otherwise.

    As far as the other suspensions....well....I guess it all added up and bit him in the ***. But the way the stories go...it seems they had it out for him and were looking for a way to get him gone. So be it....but at least be professional enough to call him into the office to do that....

    That is all....

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register