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Flagler Beach Plans to Eliminate Fire and Police Chief Posts, But Both Departments Survive

| June 20, 2013

Flagler Beach City Manager Bruce Campbell wants his fire and police captains, as he would rename them, more directly involved in day-to-day operations along their rank and file. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler Beach City Manager Bruce Campbell wants his fire and police captains, as he would rename them, more directly involved in day-to-day operations along their rank and file. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler Beach City Manager Bruce Campbell wants to eliminate the positions of fire chief and police chief, install captains at the head of each department, and expect those captains to be working the streets, pulling hoses and writing tickets when necessary. The change, he said, is compelled by the small size of the city and the unsustainable growth in the two departments’ budgets, which now account for 40 percent of the city’s spending. The path is unsustainable without changes.

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“I’m just going to be dead honest. Just along the lines of how I felt answering those questions,” Campbell said, referring to a set of questions commissioners submitted about the viability of the fire department, “what kept coming through my skull, can we afford in the future to be in the fire department business, can we afford to be in the police department business?”

For now, Campbell’s answer is a clear yes, but not without those changes. He asked the Flagler Beach City Commission to approve the plan. The commission provided its consensus to do so during a daylong budget workshop Tuesday, though Commissioner Joy McGrew specified: “Tentative is a nice word.” The changes are more than administrative: they must still be written into the city’s ordinances and therefore ratified by the city commission, following public hearings.

Neither change would result in significant savings, and at the police department, costs would rise next year, according to budget documents. In fact, the elimination of the top positions would pay for 3 percent raises for the ranks.

The police department is currently operating on a budget of $1.2 million. Police Chief Dan Cody is paid $70,000. There are three sergeants, a detective and 10 officers, plus two civilian employees. The proposal would eliminate the chief’s position and replace it with a captain paid $58,000. But the rest of the department’s structure would remain unchanged, though a proposed 3 percent raise for all the positions below the captain’s mean that the payroll would increase by $6,311. In essence, the pay increase this year is being paid for with the $20,000 saving from the fire chief position’s elimination.

Naturally, Cody, the fire chief, was not happy.

“I don’t agree with it, but other than that—” Cody said, when asked about the change. “I’ve never heard of it. Of course we discussed it, and I didn’t know it, but the city manager advised me that there were others in the state which surprised me. But I think when he came in and talked to me he said you’re not going to agree with me. He was right.” Campbell and Cody had spoken about the change on June 10.

Nor would the changes alter the fact that on some nights, at certain periods, only one police officer is on duty. That takes place in the early morning hours, when crime is at its lowest, Cody said.

“Do we usually have more than one officer on each evening?” Mayor Linda Provencher asked him.

“We usually have two on in the evening,” Cody said. “When it gets later at night, we have one because of the shortage of officers we have. We have been working overtime on the critical days, at critical times and all, we’re trying to get by with that. There were two officers on the other night, if you’re referring to that article. There was—she had a training officer with her. She wasn’t by herself.” (Cody was referring to a FlaglerLive article on an alleged rape that took place after 3 a.m. the morning of May 14.)

Bobby Pace, the acting fire chief, was more amenable to the restructuring. “I don’t have any issue with it,” Pace said.

Bruce Campbell (© FlaglerLive)

Bruce Campbell (© FlaglerLive)

The restructuring at the fire department would eliminate a top position that was costing $78,000 ad replace it with a captain’s salary of $58,000. The assistant fire chief position, which was costing $47,611, would be eliminated entirely. But lower ranks would also be restructured, with a hierarchy creating three lieutenants’ positions, each paid $38,000. There would be three full-time firefighters, each paid $32,500, and one part-time firefighter position, paid $12,000. Currently, there are no lieutenants. There are six full-time firefighters with salaries ranging from $31,700 to $33,800, and three part-timers paid $6,500 each.

The current payroll is $304,000. With the change, payroll would fall to $281,500. As with the police department, Campbell is proposing a 3 percent raise for all positions, though the actual budget proposal shows all but one of the full-time firefighters’ salaries declining slightly. If Pace is the hired captain, he would see his salary jump $25,000.

“I don’t really see much of a difference there,” Pace said of the proposed changes. “I think it’s just a name, really.” He spoke of the budget more generally, saying there’d been “some padded areas” in the past that have been sheared. “We want to exist, so if we’ve got to be down to bare bones and do that, we’re doing what we need to do.”

“You’re saying there would be no diminishment of the public safety factor here,” Settle said to Campbell, addressing the police and fire restructuring.

“Absolutely not,” Campbell said.

“In your estimation, would this new system improve public safety in Flagler Beach?”

“I think it will,” Campbell replied, with distinctly less conviction than his absolutism seconds earlier. “I mean, and again, a lot of these things that you plan for when you reorganize, it’s got a lot to do with the individual that ends up being in the position. I believe if we have the right person, we find the right applicants, we find those that are applying get the right person in there, a working captain of our police agency, a working captain of our fire agency is exactly what Flagler Beach needs and desires. I know I’ve heard that complaint for years around town. ‘Why can’t the chiefs do anything? They don’t do a thing, they’re never out, you never see them, why can’t they go to a fire, why can’t they pull a hose, why can’t they write tickets, why aren’t they patrolling our streets,’ that sort of thing. So there’s a lot of advantages, I think, if we go about this correctly, for those reasons I stated. I really feel strongly about it. I think it’s the right thing for Flagler Beach at this point.”

“I know that there’s a lot of paperwork associated with the administration of both the fire department and the police department,” Commissioner Jane Mealy said. “If the captains are going to be out patrolling the streets or answering calls, upon whom does the paperwork fall?”

Campbell said the job description would allow for answering calls in certain situations. “That’s not saying they’re going to be out every day of the week, patrolling the streets,” he said.

“Because,” mealy continued, “I remember a city manager who said he’s going to be out there all the time, he’s not going to sit behind a desk, and you found out what the reality of the job is. Those nasty commissioners expect you to behind your desk when they come in.”

“My vehicle, I never shut it off.”

Campbell’s proposal is the latest twist in a long, complicated and unresolved wrangle over the fate of the Flagler Beach Fire Department, whose internal struggles and scandals have doused the pages of local media seemingly more often than water on actual fires in the city in the past year and a half. One commissioner, Kim Carney, has been interested in consolidating the department with the county. Her idea has yet to gain broader support. If the police department has had its issues, they’ve been kept closer to the vest so far.

“If there are changes to be made within the fire department, this is the time to do it,” Commission Chairman Steve Settle said at the workshop, launching Campbell’s rationale.

“There’s no question that safety is paramount to all our citizens, our residents, our visitors’ welfare,” Campbell explained as he laid out his plan. “But the thing I keep coming back to though is two things. Our city is only, as you know, 4,500 in population. I think when you look at a small city like that, we need to take that size into consideration. So with the smallness of the city, I believe there should be some corollaries between that and the size of agencies, the size of departments. Particularly in the police department.” He specified the numbers: the $600,000 fire department, the $1.2 million police department. “If we don’t start managing and find different ways of managing the cost structure of these two agencies, we will in time become uncompetitive, and it probably begs for the continual question of: are we going to be able to maintain that at our city as far as one of our services, or are we going to be forced because of economic reasons at some point to delivering that service.”

That was one of the “big reasons” for his proposal. Another was the notion of working captains. “I believe that the fire captain ought to be out responding to fires at time,” Campbell said. “The police captain should be filling in for maybe an officer that’s sick, trying to reduce the amount of overtime if necessary, actually pulling road patrols and that sort of thing, being out in the community, being a working chief if you will, or a working captain.” Finally, particularly in the fire department, he wants to provide more of a hierarchy that clearly delineates officers from lower ranks.

Campbell said there’s nothing in law that requires a city to have either a fire chief or a police chief. He cited “a couple of cities” in Florida that follow the captain model. He spoke about it with Armando Martinez, the Bunnell city manager and a former police chief himself, with Drew Smith, the Flagler Beach city attorney, and Jim Manfre, the sheriff. “He didn’t have any heartburn over it,”  Campbell said of the sheriff’s reaction.

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26 Responses for “Flagler Beach Plans to Eliminate Fire and Police Chief Posts, But Both Departments Survive”

  1. pamala zill says:

    Tighten up on the Pier ticket takers. They take alot more then just tickets. Douse the fire department. Keep our local officer’s on board.

  2. SSDD says:

    Wow, comments that came out in previous posts about the eliminations of the former firefighters being fired so that Pace can be promoted and Lieutenants positions being created seem to be coming true. Maybe those guys were on to something and since they didn’t roll Campbell’s way, he had his way with them.
    So, are these Captains going to work a 40 hour week and be on call as needed?
    Is Pace going to be “The Captain” and work on shift so things will only get done every third day?
    Is anyone there trained and educated enough to even be promoted to a Lieutenant?
    Is Pace just going to be promoted since he seems to be Campbell’s “do boy”, or is the city going to be smart and actually hire someone that is knowledgeable and capable of running a combination fire department and not be under investigation for falsifying state documents? They want to clean up the image of that department, bring someone in not affiliated with the city or county and put them in the position. Get some real leadership in there, but make sure whoever takes the position is made aware to watch his/her back because it seems like if you aren’t liked by the people there, you’ll get backdoored by them going to Mr. Campbell. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that’s what happened in January.

  3. Profiler says:

    Thank you Flagler Live. Less crime at night? That’s when more serious crimes happen…burglaries, rapes, home invasions, domestic violence. And the list goes on. Of course, during the day, there needs to be more officers on duty for the speeders…lol.

  4. Solo says:

    A Chief is a police departments anchor so to speak. It would appear that without one a department is incomplete…without leadership. Id tend to thnk that qualified police applicants will steer clear of this department in search of other departments that offer more stability which in turn will eventually, due to the lack of applicants, force the department to close.

  5. Realty Check says:

    Mr. Campbell says it will be okay, I feel safer already, and he is using the 3 percent raise like a dangling carrot in front of the hourly employee’s. Look at the actual cost savings here compared to the risks, did he first look at the public works dept. or sanitation (who do an awful job anyway) to save money? Perhaps replace him with a lower paid individual, sorry Mr. Campbell but look at the non-risk fat part of the budget first.

  6. Flagler Citizen says:

    As a tax paying citizen of Flagler Beach, I commend the City Managers and City Commissions continued work in order to reduce costs of our Police and Fire Departments while still ensuring the utmost safety and protection for our citizens and maintaining control of these Departments within the City. That said, I feel the idea of eliminating the position of Chief, in each department, is a misguided one. Without knowing all of the specifics, it appears that the responsibilities now held by the respective Chiefs, will be handled by the designated “Captain” in each service. That plan does not appear to change the responsibilities of the top person, merely the title of the person on whose desk that will fall. With respect to the Fire Dept. and people wanting to see the top person “pull hose, etc.” what needs to be understood is that the top person at a Fire, whether it be a City Dept or, a County Dept. usually does not “pull hose, etc>” but acts as the Incident Commander assuming responsibility for everyone on scene. Specifically speaking about the Fire Dept., I say keep the position of Chief and adjust the salary so that it reflects what was going to be paid to the “Captain” as it is important to have the position as the responsibilities that person will still have as respects budgetary items and the overseeing of employees, appears to still be there. As respect the Police Department, how much money could be saved if the members of the department were required to leave their cruisers at the police station at the end of their shift rather than being able to use them as their personal vehicles to go to and from work, etc. Not sure how many of the police personnel live within Flagler Beach limits itself, but I feel their leaving their cars at the station would reduce the additional gasoline and maintenance costs as well as eliminate the need for as many cars as they currently have.

  7. failure beach says:

    ok, here is the problem i said would happen back in the late ’80’s early ’90’s… TOO MANY PAID PERSONNEL IN A SMALL CITY. .. the city should eliminate ALL paid firefighter.. go back to VOLUNTEER DEPARTMENT. never had the problems when the city was fighting fires as a community. but when you add $ , the greed takes over.. the PD should be run by the county. at least the upper management should be controlled by FCSO.. back to the FD… if it was run by VOLUNTEERS , the city would be safer. volunteers take more pride in their jobs. (20 year volunteer FF ., left when the politics took over.)

  8. mark says:

    Maybe the city manager can get out there and pull hoses also, or type his own papers, empty his own trash, etc.

  9. jl says:

    Chief’s do a lot more than just sit around on their duffs. You can change the title’s all you want. The Captain’s will now be doing the Chief’s jobs. And that includes all of the paperwork that is involved. What’s going to happen, the Captain’s will be expected to do all of that paperwork on their own time. I hope they’re up for all of the free overtime. Chief’s don’t just sit around twiddling their thumbs. I’m married to one. He would love nothing more than to have the time to go fight fires and assist citizens. He only took the Chief’s job because he wanted to be able to retire at a higher pay since he won’t get a cost of living raise. Unfortunately, his time is consumed by management/administrative functions running all the fire houses he runs.As it is, that doesn’t end at 5:00. He spent 24 hours at the building collapse in Philadelphia. Came home, showered, slept 3 hours and was back at it at 6:00 a.m. Sure, Flagler Beach is no Philadelphia, but there still is a lot to running police stations and fire houses.

    But the city does need to do something to cut costs. Surely, they could have saved money by coming under the protection of Flagler County?

  10. RG says:

    Maybe the city can consider cross training Fire and Police of course neither would be happy about that idea.

  11. Truth of the matter says:

    It’s time to get serious, if the city of Flagler Beach is truly concerned with rising costs for fire and police etc. making two chief’s into captains is by no means a solution. In fact It s simply’ like putting a band aid on an major laceration, of little to no help.

    All seven city officials, manager and commission / mayor, should move to curtail the special events calendar immediately, a calendar which only serves to raise tax payer expenditures for the majority of the city services which are provided.

    Have the courage to do what is needed, turn the F.D. over to the county (better for them the f.f ‘s and the city) a savings $600,000, put in parking meters which could generate an additional revenue of $300,000 to $400.000 from visitors, not residents. Have the county pick up the cost of the lifeguards, as it is after all a county used beach.

    Make the police department a pro-active arm of code enforcement, a long over looked source of considerable revenue currently being over looked. In total the potential is there to bring in well over a million dollars per year, so stop worrying about saving a few cents, and make the real hard decisions, the decisions tax payers of your city want you to make.

    Don’t forget to also contact the county regarding extra police protection, for special events, nights etc. after all we are paying money to them for sheriffs protection are we not ?

  12. CITY EMPLOYEE says:

    Heck next he will want to get rid of the commissioners . Is this guy for real !!! he got rid of parks and look what a mess the town is. He has no clue what is going on out side of city hall after all the budget cuts . Bandaids and duct tape only work for a little while then the cost to fix things skyhigh rocket. But it looks real good on paper the more cuts the more flagler beach suffers . Once you lose control its all over but the crying . I know let get rid of city manager we all ready have a working commision.

  13. James says:

    Not very impressed with Mr. Campbell.

  14. GoodGrief says:

    “If we don’t start managing and find different ways of managing the cost structure of these two agencies, we will in time become uncompetitive, and it probably begs for the continual question of: are we going to be able to maintain that at our city as far as one of our services, or are we going to be forced because of economic reasons at some point to delivering that service.”——Huh???

    “So with the smallness of the city, I believe there should be some corollaries between that and the size of agencies, the size of departments.”—–Well I believe that with the “smallness” of the city, $90,000.00 is a lot to pay for the City Manager’s salary.

  15. just a thought says:

    I’m going to guess this isn’t the last we hear of Flagler Beach.

  16. The Professor says:

    Truth turning the FD to the county WILL NOT save 600k they already researched it and that’s why it was shot down. Plus the county can’t even afford to replace their current trucks. Stop being cheap if you want quality service from either dept. raise taxes. If you want poor service lower them, it’s that easy. You get what you pay for.

  17. Sherry Epley says:

    Right On RG! I floated the idea of cross training months ago. . . I would love to hear that our city leaders are at least considering the “cross training” possibilities. Having that kind of training would add to any professional’s resume, as well. Instead of resisting, I would hope that this could be considered a Win/Win.

  18. AMOS says:

    Our Police Dept. without a Chief, Sounds Like a School Without a Principle or A City without a Manager????Feasable, We Think “NOT” !!!!!!!, Cross Training and The County Helping on the beach Is Right On !!! Our Elected Officials Need to have a WorkShop with Volusia County, All The Dept’s Seem to Work Together hand and hand !!!! No Free Parking, If Meters are Put in Here our Question is Who Is Gonna monitor Them, The One Officer on Duty????

  19. budget woes says:

    I’m surprised that Flagler Beach hasn’t considered adding red light cameras, you know, to improve $afety on the roadways.

  20. Mike Tee says:

    Oh Please! How can you possibly have a Police & Fire Department with no Chief??
    Absolutely absurd.


      COUNTY,COUNTY,COUNTY……………..How much more pain can the people of flagler beach take,

  21. Rick Belhumeur says:

    When are the people of Flagler Beach going to figure out that the City of Flagler Beach CANNOT AFFORD to maintain 21st century Fire and Police protection? Be careful what you ask for… when you ask people to come to your City you must be prepared to address all the issues that come along with the influx of cars, people and demand for Emergency Services. Because of the flood of VISITORS to Flagler Beach the demand for these emergency services has increased. The COUNTY is the beneficiary of the added sales tax revenues and should provide the additional services required to meet the demand. Every Flagler Beach taxpayer is paying the COUNTY for Police and Fire protection and then paying for the same protection all over again to the CITY. Why doesn’t the City “DEMAND” that the County subsidize these vital services? If not, board up the fire and police stations and the COUNTY will have no choice but to provide these services and the City can remove “1.8 million dollars” from the budget.

  22. John Smith says:

    The Assistant Chief was being paid $46,000 why don’t they pay Pace that for the same job the Ass. Chief was doing which has been running the FD. The city could save $12,000 doing that why is he being paid $58,000 and NOT have any of the qualifications of any type officers. Oh that ‘s right he is Campbells boy.

  23. Hey you. says:

    Please tell us how pace is not qualified to run the department? I would sure like to hear about all the qualifications you know so much about.

    • FB Insider says:

      Well, for starters being the center of an ongoing criminal investigation (that he admitted guilt to). There’s one. Second, the fact that he has 6, maybe 7 years of experience. Most fire department’s won’t promote a line firefighter to Lieutenant in that LITTLE of time. Sounds like Flagler Beach is ready to promote LT’s with as little as 3 years OTJ. In addition, the fact that he just recently (in the last year) seemingly gathered all of his certification rather quickly through the Florida State Fire College (probably with Campbell in his ear advising him to). Prior to that, Pace did little in his 4 years or so with the FBFD to further his education; yet suddenly he is in class after class back to back? Oh, and did we talk about the fact that he again, ADMITTED TO COMMITTING A CRIME?! Not only did he do that, but then he “blew the whistle” on other employees who violated city POLICY and made sure they were terminated; yet he gets a promotion?

      The entire thing is laughable now at this point. Campbell has shown his true colors and where his loyalty lies; his do-boy Pace. Pace has shown that NONE of the employees below him can trust him, because he will, without hesitation, stab ANYONE in the back to further himself. History has shown such. So now, you’ll presumably (if Campbell has his way) have a fire department consisting of the following:

      6 – 7 yrs OTJ “Captain” running the place
      3 Lieutenants with roughly 3 years OTJ each (give or take)
      3 Firefighters below them with even less experience

      It’s funny how as “SSDD” stated, everything that the employees who were terminated back in February stated REALLY are taking place. Everyone seems to have lost sight of that though.

  24. John Smith says:

    Going from 6 years of being a firefighter with how many true fires under his belt maybe a half dozen actual house fires that all he did was take orders from someone in charge oh maybe a real Chief with the rest being med calls and taking some officer classes does NOT make him a Chief. Pace has already publicly admitted he would turn the scene what ever it would be over to the county because he does NOT know everything there is to know about it, that does NOT make a Chief. All he is right now is Campbells PR boy to make the FD look good.

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