City Officials: Firefighters Union Playing Dirty Politics

By: Daniel Chanin Email
By: Daniel Chanin Email

Harsh comments came from Reno city officials on Wednesday about the recent vote of no confidence given by the firefighters union regarding their chief Paul Wagner.

The Mayor says budget issues and dirty politics is behind the Reno firefighters recent vote.

Mayor Bob Cashell says the union is very aware of the coming election and sees it as a perfect opportunity to get what it wants. But dirty politics and trying to get the chief fired are tactics that won't work.

"The firefighters union say it's not personal," says Cashell. "My opinion is they don't like Chief Wagner because he's had the backbone to say to them on budget and financial issues something they're not accustomed to."

Cashell and city manager Charles McNeely lashed out at the firefighters union local 731 accusing them of filing a grievance because of some recent issues over their budget.

"Some of the challenges obviously we've faced have included issues on overtime, callback procedures and better use of personnel and these have not always been popular," says McNeely.

Another unpopular issue has been the recently adopted fire inspection program, which the union says delayed the response time to the Ridgecrest Fire because units were away from the station. It's an allegation Cashell says has no merit.

"The inspections that are done are within their districts," says Cashell. "They're able to go to gyms within their districts and workout; so that was something the City Council says we want done and that's what the Chief has done."

City Council member Jessica Sferrazza voted for the inspection, which came about after the Mizpah Fire. She says the program is new, but it's running smoothly, and if there are any problems, she's open to solving them.

"I'd love to hear from firefighters if there are any deficiencies in the program I'd be happy to meet with them," says Sferrazza. "I'm sure the Chief would as well, to resolve those deficiencies, but so far I'm not aware of any deficiencies."

The city wants to make it clear they will not respond to any ultimatums, but they are willing to sit down and negotiate with union representatives. In fact, McNeely says he's already sat down with a union representative to try to resolve all of this and move forward.


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