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Flagler Beach Fire Chief Martin Roberts Faces Firing on Insubordination Charge

| July 16, 2012

Martin Roberts. (© FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: 2:09 p.m.

Flagler Beach Fire Chief Martin Roberts was placed on administrative leave on July 12 and told he would be fired pending a pre-disciplinary hearing with City Manager Bruce Campell on Tuesday at 10 a.m., in Campbell’s office. As of Monday, Roberts no longer had access to city computers, and his passwords were changed.

“I have attempted to correct your repeated insubordination, violation of chain of command, and incompetency or negligence in the performance of your duties. All efforts have failed,” Campbell wrote Roberts in a hand-delivered three-page memo dated July 12.

Bobby Pace, a firefighter in the department, is the interim chief.

“I’m not happy about it but it’s not my job to get involved,” Jane Mealy, who chairs the Flagler Beach City Commission, said this afternoon. “I don’t think that the fire chief was insubordinate or those things—I don’t believe all those charges.” Mealy had gone to city hall on unrelated business when Campbell saw her there and took her aside to inform her of his decision. “I’ve only known for about an hour, so I haven’t totally processed this whole thing yet. I was kind of taken aback.”

In his termination letter to Roberts, Campbell was referring to the controversy that engulfed the fire department and the city following a series of unauthorized trips Roberts and other fire department employees took out of state to examine fire trucks. In March, however, Roberts had appeared before the city commission and received an explicit go-ahead to conduct a trip to New York to examine a truck, and even put down a $500 deposit if necessary. The city authorized the deposit, but did not authorize any other spending, such as air fares and hotels, nor did commissioners ask how the trip would be paid for, though it appeared that several commissioners already knew: the company making the offer of a truck would underwrite the trip, as is common in the industry.

Roberts had spoken with commissioners, including Joy McGrew and Jane Mealy, about the possible truck buy before that March meeting. He had not spoken to Campbell about his meetings with commissioners. Campbell took that as an affront, since department heads are not supposed to circumvent the city manager and go directly to commissioners on city business. Campbell severely reprimanded Roberts after that meeting, serving him notice that it was his last warning.

In June, Roberts went to South Dakota and Minnesota with two firefighters to inspect trucks, without telling Campbell. (That was one trip: South Dakota one day, Minnesota the next.) Roberts took vacation time to do the trip, which was underwritten by the fire truck company. Art Woosley, a retired fire official from South Florida who’s very active in Flagler Beach politics behind the scene, and who led an effort to elevate Campbell to city manager, emailed the manager with information about the trips, prompting Campbell to investigate. That, in turn, led City Commission member Steve b Settle to question how the trips could have taken place without the city commission’s knowledge, though other commissioners–Mealy and Marshall Shupe, a volunteer in the city’s fire department–said it was a matter between the fire chief and the manager, and that the city commission should steer clear. Nevertheless, at a special meeting prompted by Settle, commissioners agreed to consider adding language to the city’s ordinances regarding commission ethics and oversight responsibilities.

Meanwhile, Campbell was conducting his investigation, knowing that, his own March meeting with Roberts having become public, he had little choice but to make good on his disciplinary promise should a similar issue recurred. In Campbell’s view, it did do–even after the issue became public. The July 12 memo to Roberts reveal what until now had not been known: that, in the memo’s wording to Roberts, “After being reprimanded for your actions, you authorized a member of your Department to take a third out-of-state trip on City business without the knowledge of, or approval from, the City Manager. You have therefore committed three offenses of insubordination, have been counseled and reprimanded, and are subject to discharge.”

The events threw the city commission in turmoil for weeks.

“Of course we’ve gone through this conversations and accusations for weeks, longer, and the longer it went the worse it got, but it’s our form of government, that’s what happens,” Commissioner Marshall Shupe said. “It’s Bruce’s obligation to not only us and the city and the residents, he needs to do his job. If something like this occurs nobody is happy with anything that’s a negative in the city for sure, and it is what it is. I think everybody down at that fire station is still going to be pulling for the primary interest and responsibility, and that is keeping our city safe with a good fire department.”

Campbell was asked on Friday by a reporter whether there had been any developments regarding Martin’s fate. Campbell said no and to check back later, though clearly Campbell had acted, as of Thursday, with that memo, which minced no words.

Campbell cites three sets of reasons for firing Roberts: insubordination, incompetence or negligence in the performance of duties, and receiving gifts of value from a concern potentially doing business with the city.

“Either the City’s Manager was intentionally circumvented in the decision making about the inspection trips or it did not occur to you that the City Manager should be involved in this decision making,” Campbell wrote. “If the former, the offense is insubordination (see above). If the latter, you were either incompetent or negligent in the performance of your duty as Fire Chief.”

The memo also notes the March 23 reprimand meeting: “On March 23, 2012, I met with you and communicated to you about your failure to follow the proper chain of command by speaking with Commission members about a fire truck replacement without approval from or discussion with the City Manager,” Campbell wrote. “I warned you that such conduct fell below the desirable level of the behavior and performance expected of a department director and would not be tolerated in the future. At that meeting, you made no mention of any future activities or out-of-state trips to visit fire truck manufacturing plants to pursue a replacement truck.”

With the fire chief absent, Shane Wood, the second in command, is normally in charge of the department. But Wood is taking a personal trip with his family Tuesday and won’t return to work until July 30. Contacted on Monday, Wood said he had not spoken with Campbell, nor was he fully aware of the situation, but was hoping to know more later in the day. In his and the chief’s absence, he said, Pace had been in charge in the past, as he was last Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Roberts could not be reached. The 65-year-old fire chief was hired in Flagler Beach in 2005, after three fire chiefs had held the position in the previous three years (Robbie Creal, Jon Macdonald and Charles Burnett). He was hired to bring stability to the department. He’d spent his career in Radford, Va., where he served 18 years as assistant fire chief and six as chief.

Full text of the July 12 Letter to Martin Roberts

Dear Chief Roberts:

This will serve as the City’s notice of intent to dismiss you from your employment as Fire Chief for the City of Flagler Beach. On Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 10:00 a.m, a pre-disciplinary hearing will be held in my office pursuant to Section 2-269 of the Code of Ordinance, and I will render a final decision within one working day. The hearing will be audiotaped and subsequently made a part of the City’s public record. As an at will employee of the City, you are entitled to resign your employment with or without cause at any time. Effective immediately you are being placed on paid administrative leave pending my final decision.

Below are the facts upon which the City relies when drawing the conclusion that dismissal of your employment is required.

(1) Prior to the March 22, 2012, Commission meeting, you communicated directly to commissioners without my knowledge, advocating that the City pursue the purchase of a replacement fire truck. The topic and your communications were raised at the March 22 Commission meeting.

(2) On March 23, 2012, I met with you and communicated to you about your failure to follow the proper chain of command by speaking with Commission members about a fire truck replacement without approval from or discussion with the City Manager. I warned you that such conduct fell below the desirable level of the behavior and performance expected of a department director and would not be tolerated in the future. At that meeting, you made no mention of any future activities or out-of-state trips to visit fire truck manufacturing plants to pursue a replacement truck.

3) In June, you and two firefighters visited two fire truck manufacturing plants in Minnesota and South Dakota to view the plants and assembly procedures. You neither informed nor obtained permission from the City Manager regarding the trips even though the trips related to City business. You were not given permission to act on the City’s behalf on these trips by either the City Manager or the City Commission.

(4) On June 25, 2012, after the inspection trips had been brought to my attention, I told you that it was inappropriate for you to take have taken the trips without knowledge or approval of the City Manager. At that time, you made no mention that a third trip was to be taken by a member of the Fire Department to inspect a third manufacturing plant in Wisconsin, which occurred on or about June 26, 2012. The third trip was taken without knowledge or approval of the City Manager.

(5) The fire truck manufacturers paid for all expenses, including transportation, meals, and lodging.

Based on the above, dismissal is warranted as direct violations of the following offenses:

A. Insubordination by refusing to perform work assigned or to comply with written or verbal instructions of a supervisor as long as the written or verbal instruction is not in violation of any federal, state or local law [Sec. 2-270, Group III Offenses, (7)]

On March 23, the City Manager gave you verbal instructions regarding the proper chain of command. Thereafter, you took an out-of-state trip, and authorized members in your Department to take the trip with you, on City business without the knowledge of, or approval from, the City Manager. After being reprimanded for your actions, you authorized a member of your Department to take a third out-of-state trip on City business without the knowledge of, or approval from, the City Manager. You have therefore committed three offenses of insubordination, have been counseled and reprimanded, and are subject to discharge.

B. Incompetence, inefficiency, or negligence in the performance of duty. [Sees. 2-262(b)(3) and 2-270, Group III Offenses, (14)]

Either the City’s Manager was intentionally circumvented in the decision making about the inspection trips or it did not occur to you that the City Manager should be involved in this decision making. If the former, the offense is insubordination (see above). If the latter, you were either incompetent or negligent in the performance of your duty as Fire Chief.

C. Receiving from any person, or participating in any fee, gift or other valuable thing in the course of work, when such fee, gift or other valuable thing is given in the hope or expectation of receiving a favor of better treatment than that accorded other persons. [Sec. 2-270, Group III Offenses, (3)]

The fact that the trips were paid for by private corporations which could benefit from the payments presents a potential violation of this prohibition. The payments for travel, food and lodging were received directly by you. Even though it is unknown whether such expenses were paid for with the expectation of receiving better treatment than that accorded-other. corporations or individuals, there is an appearance that such intent may have existed. Had proper approval of the City Manager been sought prior to the inspection trip being taken, the potential pitfalls of this possible violation could have been addressed.

I have attempted to correct your repeated insubordination, violation of chain of command, and incompetency or negligence in the performance of your duties. All efforts have failed.

Sincerely,
Bruce C. Campbell
City Manager

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56 Responses for “Flagler Beach Fire Chief Martin Roberts Faces Firing on Insubordination Charge”

  1. question says:

    Two words: Wrongful Termination

    So many working soooo hard to turn a tiny mole hill into an ill-begotten mountain.

    So wasteful of so many resources that could have been used for much better purposes.

    Sad endeavor!

    • FRANK DILIBERTO says:

      question……. I agree 100%

    • Gov employee says:

      If the city manager is the Fire Chief’s superior then he certainly has the right to take disciplinary action concerning a subordinate. The proper documentation and following the correct city procedures will avoid an unnecessary lawsuit. By the way, why doesn’t anyone making comments here see a conflict of interest in the purchasing of fire trucks?

      • FB Insider says:

        What would the conflict of interest in purchasing a fire truck be? Exploring multiple vendors isn’t a conflict of interest . . . he doesn’t own stock in any of the companies . . . he doesn’t have a friend or family member working for the company . . . waiting to hear the conflict . . .

  2. PalmCoast says:

    Are you kidding me???…The City Manger needs to get a life!!… BULLY is the only word that comes to mind!! This did not cost the city a dime! Hello!!

  3. Flagler Citizen says:

    I hope this City has enough money to pay the lawsuit fees and probable wrongful termination award that I see forthcoming.

    • Geezer says:

      I believe that here in Florida – you can be fired for any reason, or for no reason at all, from any job.
      You’re not even owed an explanation. (outrageous, I know)
      -With exception to union and contracted positions.
      Was Mr. Roberts contracted?

      I hope that you’re right, though. Can anybody shed light on this?

  4. Rick says:

    To sum it up: Two and a half decades of public service abrubtly terminated at the hands of an inexperienced public manager on the job less than a year.

  5. Ralph Belcher says:

    I maintain that from the cheap seats of the peanut gallery, this probably stems from a longstanding history of following procedure in a sloppy manner, short-circuiting protocol… being in a small town, familiarization/fraternization issues rear their head this way.

  6. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    “Campbell severely reprimanded Roberts after that meeting, serving him notice that it was his last warning”-

    This statement explains why Mr. Martin must be terminated. The City Manager told the chief his conduct was wrong, warned him this was his last chance, the chief continued doing so anyway. He earned his termination.

    I’d like to know how exactly the above commentators think a wrongful termination suit will prevail by an at will employee who obviously disobeyed his supervisor and likely violated city code and perhaps state ethics law in the process?

  7. Mr. Smith says:

    Looks like the beach city manager is taking some plays out of the Bunnell city managers playbook. Guess he did learn something at those coalition of cities meetings.

  8. flagler citizen too says:

    as has been said…..this could all have been avoided. the commission makes policy, the city manager sees that it is enforced. very simple, if the rules are followed. in this case, the rules were broken, not once, not twice, but three times (that we know of). ya mess up, ya fess up. assume some responsibility for it. or, lie, sneak around, pass the buck and suffer the consequences. it’s not pretty, but one would think, with all that experience, a little honest communication could have made all the difference.

  9. RJ says:

    A sad day for Flagler Beach. The biggest issue the city is facing in my opinion at this point is this. The City Manager commented repeatedly in the press regarding an on-going investigation into the possible misconduct of a high ranking city employee. This behavior is unprecedented!

    What does this do for morale to the rest of our city employees? The message is clear, if you get charged with something I will drag your name through the mud in the press before my investigation is complete. I will try you in the papers in an attempt to gain political support for the actions I want to take.

    The proper way to handle this would have been for him to refrain from commenting to the press, completed his investigation, and finally taken action. Only at that point should he have anything to say to the media. His actions in my opinion needlessly opened the City up to liability from the almost certain lawsuit to follow. All because of what?

    How do you think future candidates for Fire Chief will respond to this? Would you want to work somewhere that handled internal investigations this way?

    This is an embarrassment to our city and the Manager’s actions represent nothing short of incompetence. I also think it is inexcusable that he is so disconnected from the Commission and the City staff that he had no knowledge of these events, which were CLEARLY not done in secrecy… so much so that PRIVATE CITIZENS knew of them including the Commissioners he works for.

    Mr. Campbell should be terminated. Not because he fired Chief Roberts, but because of the way he handled this whole situation. This is a complete and total failure at leadership and sets a precedent that will destroy the morale of our City employees.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      RJ, if you’re referring to comments made to FlaglerLive by Bruce Campbell regarding the investigation, you’re incorrect. The most we got out of him was that an investigation was ongoing. No more. He kept strict radio silence, as he was supposed to, on the record or off. The material we were able to get, we got through publicly available documents the city had to make available, because they were public records. Campbell at no time revealed anything more than what cops reveal when they’re in the middle of an investigation: “an investigation is ongoing.” If anything, Campbell was not forthcoming on Friday when we asked him if there had been developments regarding that investigation, specifically regarding the fire chief’s fate, and he said no. Obviously, there had been, judging from the date on his termination letter to the chief. But dishonesty toward the press is the natural reflex of government officials.

      • RJ says:

        http://flaglerlive.com/40769/flagler-beach-fire-truck/

        — Quoting from the article linked above —

        Twice last month, Flagler Beach Fire Department personnel acting as representatives of the city took unauthorized trips to two manufacturers of fire trucks–one in South Dakota, one in Wisconsin–to shop for a replacement fire engine.

        Bruce Campbell, the city manager, knew nothing about it–an affront to his authority, particularly given the way he found out about it.

        “I was made aware of it by a private citizen that this all took place,” Campbell said, “and unbeknownst to me, when I asked the question, I found out that it had taken place. I fully expected when I asked the question that this was all a bad rumor.”

        — End quote —

        He said an awful lot in those few sentences the way I see it. I will grant you that the editorializing surrounding his comments characterize the statement in a very damning light and that may not be an accurate reflection of Campbell’s demeanor. Whether that is this publications opinion, an attempt at dramatic effect or an accurate reflection of the context in which the quote was given I don’t know, I assumed the latter. If it were the latter then that characterization means just as much as his quote to me.

        The only appropriate response, ever, at any time before today should have been, “No Comment”. The other quotes, and the publication(s) they were found in, I leave as an exercise for the reader… those paying attention to this saga have read them as well.

    • FB Insider says:

      RJ,

      Couldn’t have said it better. I find it also extremely unprofessional and bordering insubordinate that the city manager conducted business on personal email. If you read the documents, he is also on quite the personal basis with Art Woosely with “Call me to discuss” and no phone number.

      That being said, I have said this before in prior posts and I’ll say it again: Commissioner Settle (who we know is pressuring the city manager to fire the Chief) submitted a public records request. In submitting his documents, I find it mighty convenient that the majority of his messages are cropped at the right hand side, and one even lists (from Art Woosely) the “10 questions to ask Chief Roberts” and it only lists 1 – 6. Where are the other 4 and any other conversations included in that e-mail Commissioner Settle?

      The city manager is trying to make a name for himself and show his “authority”. He was humiliated that he was caught in a LIE (he DID know of the trips, go look at the public records). Now, he has to “handle it” the way Art and his gang see fit. I want to know why nobody is questioning the city manager and Commissioner Settle on their handling of city business over personal email. To me, that is still a major underlying issue. WHAT ELSE ARE THEY HIDING?!

      Should be interesting to see how this plays out.

  10. question says:

    What’s wrong with this picture:

    The 65-year-old fire chief was hired in Flagler Beach in 2005,
    —after THREE fire chiefs had held the position
    —in the previous THREE years

    He was hired to bring stability to the department. He’d spent his career in Radford, Va., where he served 18 years as assistant fire chief and six as chief.

    A different fire chief every year for 3 years…??

    Like getting married & divorced every year for 3 years and not stopping to think the problem could by YOU?

    Also, a real good idea to throw the Chief out on July 12, with the 2nd in command out until JULY 30!
    Think that’s a bit of good judgment? :( :(

  11. Yellowstone says:

    Look folks – get your head screwed on right!

    Your boss tells what he expects and you do it. It’s a condition of employment: This is the way we do things here. If you don’t like it – you are invited to leave.

    If these reported facts are correct – this is a clear case of an employee asking to get his butt kicked out the door.

    Insubordination – case closed.

  12. Dudley Doright says:

    I think that, given the history of the Flagler Beach fire department, it is time for the leadership of Flagler Beach seriously consider letting the county take over the fire department! The county already provides rescue services so adding the firemen is the common sense choice.

    • Capt. Steve Wood says:

      Well Dudley you are right he county does provide rescue services to the city, oh wait a minute thats when they are in town and not going to Jacksonville or Gainesville or Orlando or Daytona. Talk is cheap and when you county lovers talk of your service its a joke. The history of the Flagler Beach Fire Dept is how they take care of there residents with personal care for each and every resident. The only thing your rescue 11 truck does is takes care of medical problems with the assist of the FD, The Flagler Beach Fire Dept takes care of the rest without the rescue. The citizens of Flagler Beach do not want the county here and thats a fact with signatures on the petitions so bring it on.

      • ol' sarge says:

        First of all, your title of Captain is self awarded…second, since you have no medical director, your department is technically not allowed to provide ANY medical care to any of the citizens of Flagler Beach. And, since 80-90% of the calls to 911 are medical, I would say you need to rethink your hatred of the county. You have some great guys there, but you are severely limited with what you are allowed to do…the fact that you don’t even know that tells me all I need to know about you. So, “Captain,” explain to me how you plan on taking care of the citizens without the county when it is illegal for you to do anything medically related…you are living in a dream world. What are you gonna do for chest pain? How will you treat breathing difficulties…maybe you can hold a monday night training and explain that one to the citizens…

    • FB Insider says:

      Dudley . . . you have no idea what your getting yourself into there. First of all, most taxpayers raise a HUGE fit over a $1.00 a year increase in taxes . . . now wrap your head around these facts:

      – County firefighters traditionally make approximately $5k – $6k more, BASE. Think your salary costs aren’t going to go up?
      – Officers w/ Flagler County all clear $50k plus . . . that’s about as much as your currently paying your ASST CHIEF. Costs won’t go up?
      – Flagler County staffs 3 on a pumper, what the citizens of Flagler Beach aren’t willing to pay for NOW, so lets add them from an outside entity, where we have NO CONTROL and pay more for the same thing?

      The Flagler Beach Fire Department has been serving the city since 1926 (according to their website). We as tax paying citizens have dumped A LOT of money into our fire department and proud of the men and women who serve us. They know our city, they know our needs and more of all: they know US. Go ahead and do some research. The Hammock fire station is constantly going to the Flagler County EOC for “training” or the airport station for “administrative”. Funny, who is covering this area while their gone? Not to mention the fact that they routinely send units to the training tower by the JAIL for training . . . go ahead, let the county take over . . . you lose control. Flagler Beach prides itself in being self-sufficient from police to garbage, parks and recreation to building maintenance. Why would you want to give up something you’ve got control over?

      • Dudley Doright says:

        That is the problem. Flagler Beach prides itself in being self-sufficient. Fact is in 2012 the City of Flagler Beach still thrives on questionable leadership both in city council and department heads. Time to streamline. The arguments you lay out are old news as I remember the same rationale used to prevent the transfer of Flagler Beach police dispatch duties to the county in the mid 90’s.

        • Capt. Steve Wood says:

          Well Dudley you are right again, wow. The City of Flagler Beach does pride them selves being able to take care of themselves. The Department heads do a good job and try to take care of the city, the city government does a good job and has the concerns of the city as there priorities. I have been in and out of here since 1970 and have lived here since 1988 so I have seen all the problems that have hurt this little town and I can tell you that most of the PROBLEMS come from special interest groups.
          I can say that this is terrible how one group whether its 1or2 or 39 can upset a whole town and get it turned upside down and get everyone turned against each other, granted this is America and we all have rights and that is we BOTH sides have rights.
          No one has the right to go to city hall and intimidate the city commissioners or the city manager into doing anything they were elected and hired to do the job without any threats from any certain groups or individual. You might say you have the right but ethically its not right.
          You talk of the take over of the communications system well there you go it was a take over.
          There is talk of ethics well that works on both sides also, respect also works.

          • Dudley Doright says:

            It would appear that I hit a nerve cord. While I know you are a volunteer, you need to think out of the box and stop wearing your heart on your sleve! Same thing for FB Insider. It’s time for you to hang up your bunker gear and let the true professionals of the County Fire Rescue take command and control. When you crunch the numbers and look at the capabilities of the County, it is the most sensible move to make in the best interest of the citizens and taxpayers of Flagler Beach.

            • really? says:

              well Dudley the only thing the county has on flagler beach is transport. thats it everyone at that station is fire certified. so you ought to tell me and everyone else on here you wanna pay for the county to come in, put a 3rd guy on the engine(even though the city of flagler beach and taxpayers wont do that for flagler beach right now) and on top of that the citizens are going to be paying for an extra guy on the engine and the 2 guys that staff the rescue in our city limits per shift… meanwhile your just paying for the 2 staffed career firefighter per shift at flagler beach now has. i have nothing against the county nor the fire rescue department but this is all getting ridiculous… this is the CITY COMMISSIONERS fault not the county department, fire chief, flagler beach. its the city commissioner with less than one year as a commissioner.

      • ol' sarge says:

        Again…your citizens are mislead to believe you are even allowed to provide everything they need? And, how dare you chastise the county for leaving for training when it was the FBFD that fought to get themselves added to calls 6MILES OUTSIDE OF THE CITY ON I-95!! Seriously, you guys are clueless…

        • Steve Wood says:

          Sarge, I do not have to explain myself to you or anyone else, my 20 yrs of VOLUNTEER time and schooling dedicated to the station and the city is enough and can be verified at the station.
          Surely a man with such knowledge you would have a real name Sarge and not a nickname to make your statements more creditable even though they are without merit.
          The city is at no time is being mislead about there needs being met.

          .

          • ol' sarge says:

            Nobody is questioning your dedication to the service or your community. Nor is anyone questioning the dedication of the employees and volunteers of your department…this whole thing is not at all a question of dedication! This is a question of resources…and the fact is, like it or not, that you can only LEGALLY provide a minimal amount of services. My retort to you was more directed at the venom you were spewing about the county…no matter what you think personally, the city of Palm Coast and Flagler county Fire both are financially and legally better equipped to provide EVERY service the fine citizens of Flagler Beach are entitled to….you can’t argue numbers and economics with just your pride and love of department, as unfortunate as that may be! When someone needs to actually get MEDICAL TREATMENT, remember it is that horrible county “ambulance” that is actually allowed to help.

        • FB Insider says:

          Ol Sarge, anyone such as yourself who seems to be well informed as to whats going on with response areas should know that the county has a closest-unit response protocol. This is without jurisdictional boundaries, and simply what is best for the citizens and visitors of the county. If your family was hanging upside down in a vehicle on I-95, what would you prefer: a station on the Volusia County line to go 6+ miles to the SR100 exit, or the FBFD run 3 miles and either work or assist? The entire county has been working on re-vamping their responses, and you apparently should know that. We could go round and round about who does what to get what, but we won’t. I agree with Roy Longo, everyone here needs to give this all a rest, as it pertains not to the topic at hand and is only hurting both agencies.

          • ol' sarge says:

            FBinsider, I agree whole heartedly…with you and the other party…however, my issue was with the statement of how the county ambulances were never around to protect the citizens…it was a hypocritical thing to say. I believe the closest emergency vehicle should always respond first, as do you apparently…but it seems some of you believe only Flagler Beach Fire should be protecting its citizens and that the county is not welcome, at least according to Capt. Steve Wood and his mythical petition…regin that guy in…he is publicly speaking for the entire Flagler Beach Department and I am not sure that kind of uninformed hate is the image those great guys need, let alone their chief, who is truly a stand up guy.

  13. gator fan 4ever says:

    whoever thinks they can’t fire him is obviously uninformed. florida is a right to work state. anybody can fire anybody else for whatever reason or no reason at all. it’s a free country. by the same token, anybody can quit and move on. the only thing he can’t be fired for is is age,race, or religion. with all due respect, and i’m not from this area originally, i will have to say i have NEVER seen so much bickering and underhanded crap as goes on in flager beach and flagler county politics in general. it must be something in the water.

  14. Dadgum says:

    RJ, this is not up North where you go through 5 steps before being dismissed. It’s different down South; a lot different.

  15. winny says:

    Daggum,
    You are right in the fact that things may be different down here. However, if I remember correctly there is this thing called “Due Process” and it is a national labor law. If the City Manager informed the chief that he was being terminated on or before a pre-disciplinary hearing which is nothing more than a fact finding meeting,then he got the cart ahead of the horse, and due process was not upheld. Cause for a lawsuit, at least to get his job back. I know this because I have spent a better part of my life in supervision of public officials, and had the pleasure to hire and the dis-pleasure of firing many people. I am not saying that the Chief was 100% right. But, I am saying that reading what was printed in this article, He was not afforded due process in him being informed of his termination. Rookie mistake on the city mangers part if I am correct in what I read.
    Winny

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hey Jane mealy if you don’t want to be involved-you keep quiet!

  17. PJ says:

    Follow your proceedure set by the board and protocol set by your BOSS the city manager and you don’t get fired……………………

  18. FlaglerRes.. says:

    Wow, Mr Woods are you blowing smoke up the butts of the residents in Flagler Beach. You Keep saying “when the Rescue is in town”. I see the county rescue all the time in the city. I have also seen the County rescue on every fire that is in the city as well as County engines. You say the City department handles it all. Is that right, with two guys ? You my friend are doing a disservice to the residents of Flafler Beach by giving them false hope about their fire department.

    • FB Insider says:

      Ok . . . fair enough FlaglerRes but lets discuss this for starers:

      1.) Flagler County Rescue 11 responds as BACKUP to Flagler Beach because the FIRE CHIEF required the County to place certified Firefighters on the unit FOR THAT REASON. Prior to that there were either EMT’s or Paramedics only.
      2.) You see county engines at every fire? Funny, because every fire in the Hammock, Seminole Woods, Old Kings, Colbert and I-95 you will find a Flagler Beach engine. ITS CALLED MUTUAL AID. The county has a county-wide agreement with neighboring cities and counties to do so in the event of an emergency.
      3.) You state “with two guys”? Funny, do your research. The Flagler Beach Fire Department is COMBINATION department. It staffs two paid firefighters 24/7. It also has bout 15 – 20 volunteer firefighters. These volunteers are required to volunteer 72 hours a month of their time. This means, based on numbers, every day the engine is rolling out with 3 – 4 AT MINIMUM on a truck. Thats if they don’t split up and bring two trucks.
      4.) His name is Steve Wood, not “Woods”. Pay attention.
      5.) The rescue is in town quite a bit. HOWEVER, it is in the rotation for in and out of county medical transport. These transports typically go to Ormond, however have gone as far as Shands Jacksonville, Orlando Regional Medical Center, Halifax Medical Center and so on. hen this happens, you can count on the rescue being gone for more than 3 hours between drive time, patient transfer, traffic, etc.

      The way I see it, the residents pay the county over $600k a year to have that AMBULANCE parked at the fire department and every bit of 30 – 40% of the time its out of county or at the EOC or out of the city for “Palm Coast’ or “South End” coverage because the other ambulances are busy. Meanwhile, the Flagler Beach Fire Department has an engine sitting there protecting their citizens.

      I am anxiously awaiting your answers about how the Flagler Beach Fire Department is doing a “disservice” to its residents.

      • FB Tax payer says:

        From what I get out of this is you need to rethink your stratigy to keep your clubhouse intact. When you say the rescue is out on a transport and not around and this is your argument is really just funny ..If Fire and EMS were run by the County at least you would have an engine crew with 2 to 3 professinal firefighter paramedics that have a medical director and are able to perform advanced life saving skills, Not to mention you would have an officer on the engine that knows what is going on and has been put thru a much higher degree of training and testing for the position, rather than pick the guy who has worked 2 yrs over the guy who has worked 1 year and bam your running things,, I think you need to rethink your approach when you say that the rescue goes out of the area it is leaving Flagler Beach Vols and 2 paid to have for fire protection and EMS for the residents… well clearly the degree of service and professionalizm with out the county workers around is severely diminished . So what your saying it proves that the county firefighter/Paramedics should be there with a engine and rescue crew. This is why the county engines are all advance live support engines with paramedics so that patient care will not be less when the rescue is transporting and can not be there.

  19. FF wife says:

    @FB insider. Get your facts about the county straight before you start throwing worthless unknowledgable “facts” around. I am married to a county officer and he does NOT make 50K base. We barely make that as a COMBINED income!!! So stop slandering the county department!! They provide GREAT service to this entire county and wether you like it or not they provide GREAT service to the residents of Flagler Beach!!!

    • FB Insider says:

      FF wife:

      While I understand your frustration, my facts are correct. I NEVER said a “$50k base”, I said:

      “- Officers w/ Flagler County all clear $50k plus . . . that’s about as much as your currently paying your ASST CHIEF. Costs won’t go up?”

      Now, since you called me out on it about not having my “facts straight”, let me provide you with some numbers. These are PUBLIC RECORD. You can verify it yourself if you’d like so yours are straight as well. They have been obtained from http://www.news-journalonline.com/reports/publicsalary/ and are from 2010. Below are some numbers. I will respect the individuals and not post their names:

      $46,536 / $55,182 / $47,380 / $53,690 / $47,860 / $51,880 / $75,302 / $60,557 / $53,350 / $46,806 / $54,079 / $55,967 / $26,267 / $62,467 / $62,966 / $53,505 / $55,521 / $59,201 / $68,634 / $50,202

      The way I see it , only 4 didn’t clear $50k and one never broke $30k. One would assume that may be due to a promotion, leaving the department, something of that nature but that I do not know. Also, I NEVER once slandered the department. Clearly, as shown everything I have stated is fact. Additionally, I NEVER stated that the county provided anything less than “GREAT” service to ANYONE, Flagler Beach included. The county has a GREAT group of guys that I would be honored to have treat me if I was sick or injured. I’m simply calling a spade a spade here.

  20. Kendall says:

    Requiring management approval for what essentially amounts to “gifts” from a potential supplier is not out of the ordinary for any organization either public or private. Nothing against Campbell or Roberts- I don’t know either one of them but this termination is not unfair, especially since Roberts had been warned twice and still allowed another employee to take a third unauthorized trip.

    As a public employee Roberts has a responsibility to follow protocol. He didn’t just fail to follow it, he thumbed his nose at it.

  21. Roy Longo says:

    To my Brother and Sisters of Flagler County Fire Rescue and Flagler Beach Fire Department, let us not have this very public war of words. If you want discuss this then set a meeting. These arguments go back as long as I can remember and they are exactly the same every time. Let’s act like the professionals that we are and end this now.

    • Steve Wood says:

      Roy you are right and I am sorry if I offended any county firefighters as it has to do more with the situation of our chief and the vultures who always jump on the Dept with like you say the same old arguments.

  22. NFAAlumnus says:

    To the Nay sayers – get a clue.

    Regardless if fire truck manufacturers (as well as SCBA, Rescue Tool mfg’s) have offerred to pay for many trips to hundreds of fire departments, the Fire Chief should and has to get permission to receive an all expenses paid trip from a potential vendor. The “conflict” issue is very appearent. If the winning bidder gave you a free trip and the losing bidder not, here’s your sign – a “conflict of interest” claim by the losing bidder..duh!

    I’ve been in the fire service for thirty years. Held the rank of Fire Chief. I know exactly what I am writing about.

    Roy, you are correct. ANY issues within the fire house shall stay within the fire house. It’s our second home and we need to resolve our own issues – in house and not in the public.

  23. Ron Vath says:

    Item 2 or the FBinsider comments states FB equipment is at every fire in the Hammock, Seminole Woods, Old Kings, Colbert and I-95 because of MUTUAL AID AGREEMENTS. That is definately part of` the problem as it appears mutual aid is being mis-interpreted. Mutual aid is only to be supplied by SPECIFIC REQUEST of the community in which he emergency occurs- not for every emergency. Perhaps that is why we show so many runs and our equipment and department expense is out of control. A department of this size and structure should average one run a week. Our current books show 250 plus runs a year. A natural occurrence if we are responding to every incident in surrounding communites.
    Another reason the department budget has balloned from $90,000 in 1994 to $536,000 in 2012.

    • FB Insider says:

      Ron, you are so incredibly far out there its unbelievable. Automatic closest unit response agreements are in place. This DOES NOT require a “specific request”. If one unit is out, the NEXT CLOSEST responds. A department the size of Flagler Beach runs more than one run a week. YOU are part of the problem, and part of Woosely’s clan, spreading false rumors. Palm Coast gives and takes from the county, as does Bunnell. Furthermore, your counts are FAR off. Call the FD and get the stats before you shoot off at the mouth about things you know nothing about.

  24. Brufire says:

    It would appear that the big issue here is “3 Chiefs in 3 Years”. There is something seriously wrong in this community obviously more with the Commissioners and the City Manager than the Fire Chief(s).

  25. John Smith says:

    I am curious about something. Ron Vath you claim you were the protector of the budget when you were in office what I would like to know with having the pulse on the budget IS IT $90,000 in 1999 like you were quoted in another story or is it $90,000 in 1994 that would be 6 years with NO increase is that right don’t think so. Another thing would be is that AS A COMMISSIONER for 10 years you do NOT KNOW the exact run count of your FD per year and exactly what mutual aid is.

  26. elaygee says:

    The employee was terminated properly. He can sue, anyone can sue. If he pays a lawyer, the lawyer will take the case. If he tries to get a lawyer on contingency, he won’t sue because there’s no way he can win so they won’t get paid.

    There is no financial jstification for a separate fire (or police) department for any of the towns or cities in Flagler County. Just no one wants to give up control and whatever “perks or privileges” there are.

  27. Ron Vath says:

    FB insider- We have now determined that you are a Flagler Beach Firefighter, hiding behind a curtain and abusing well meaning citizens that try to understand the unfortunate situation that has developed in your department. Perhaps a previous interim City manager, who shall go unnamed, that referred to the Department as a “snake pit” was right, but I refuse to believe there are not other well meaning , dedicated firefighters in the department who wish to serve the public.
    This was in the same conversation that the manager informed me he had to order the installation of $10,000 worth of surveillance video cameras in our firehouse to quell the rampant thievery of consumables (full boxes of tissues and paper towels, and expensive equipment- still in the box). People may be coming in off the street to steal. Essentially, as it was related to me, “ carrying away anything that is not nailed down”. Evidentially the funds for the cameras were taken out of the bloated firefighter budget because the cost exceeded the City manager’s signatory authority. As a Commissioner I was never advised of this issue until I learned it thru other sources.
    It would be interesting to know if the current administration has even been advised of the cameras and if tapes are being reviewed.

  28. clarence groves says:

    the VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPT is a paid group, including retirement,that is far better than private industry.

  29. Flagler Citizen says:

    Clarence-As a volunteer in the Dept. for the past 13 years, I can tell you we ARE NOT paid. After ten (10) years of continued service, we do qualify for a small pension but, if you have ever been a member of any volunteer organization, you will know that you volunteer for reasons other than any possible renumeration down the road!

  30. barbara haspiel says:

    In December I will have been a FIre Police volunteer at the Flagler Beach Fire Department for two years. Volunteer means volunteer. I pay for my own gas, lights on my car, certain tee shirts, and a lot of sweat.. If I make it to 10 years of service, I am now way too old to even think that will happen, I will receive 40 dollars a month for every year I have served. If you want to join us for this wonderful benefit, come on down to the department, train every Monday night for at least two hours, Give at least three hours of your time on First Friday, and expect to be awakened in the middle of the night, afternoon, morning, etc to stand in the sun, rain, wind, etc. Why do we do it? We want to give of ourselves to our community. What you sow you reap.

  31. seadoo says:

    This whole thing has been blown out of perportion… The city manager calling out people for ethics violations is a joke.. I have heard all kinds of storys about City Manager Bruce Campbell. You never here about the bad with this man only the good ( which is few and far between). Mr Campbell and his faithful goosestepping gustapo have managed to turn are beloved little community into a war zone,with fingerpointing and accusations.. Meanwhile the man doing the pointing is every bit as guilty of ethics violations as the chief is…. So my question is if the chief is guilty and going to pay with the termination of his job shouldn’t the City Manager face the same fate? Or are we to believe that the Chief is held to a higher standard then are own City Manager? If that is the case the citizens of flagler beach are in need of a rude awakening..

  32. curious says:

    Once again. Campbell has proven his ignorance and arrogance. Poor baby! Let us all cry with him…..

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