Youngstown Fire Fighters Union says they want their chief removed
21 News is learning more about the concerns the Youngstown Fire Fighters Union has with Fire Chief Barry Finley and why members say they have lost all confidence in him and believe they are working in a hostile and dangerous work environment.
A no-confidence vote took place Wednesday night between the IAFF Local 312.
With a vote of 90 to 17, members officially decided that their chief should be removed from his position.
Union President Charlie Smith said the vote is nothing personal.
"This has to do with the membership I represent and watching out for their needs along with the residents of Youngstown," said Smith.
He said they are going to the city's law director and are calling for an investigation.
"The right thing to me is to investigate and if they find the evidence that we are claiming and know has happened, for them to find a new fire chief," said Smith.
The several-page report released by the union cites a multitude of issues members have with the chief, including alleged budget mismanagement, reduction in firefighters and fire trucks, training issues and a failure to adequately address safety concerns.
"Public safety and firefighter safety have been threatened in addition to overall mismanagement and lack of leadership," according to the document.
The document also cites bullying that may present a vulnerability based on a "last chance" agreement that Chief Finley said he knew nothing about.
RELATED STORY: YFD Chief denies knowledge of 'last chance' agreement
Other issues in the document allege that Finley created a formal first responder program with almost no training, putting lives at risk.
Crews were allegedly untrained and ill-equipped to medical calls, often without an ambulance available.
One incident cited in the report explained firefighters responded to someone having a heart attack, but were unable to provide better care and had to wait an hour for an ambulance.
In June of 2018, Chief Finley announced the fire stations across the city would be shutting down on a two-week rotational basis because Finley said there will no longer be any overtime utilized to maintain 32-person staffing, according to the document.
It goes on to explain that the lack of an adequate budget was because Finley did not ask for overtime money in his yearly budget, which in time led to increased response times.
The document also cites radio issues that came to light after a firefighter sustained life-threatening injuries after falling through the floor of a burning home on the city's north side.
Crews called mayday immediately but had to leave the burning home to report their comrade had been injured to the battalion chief.
The lieutenant ended up being in an induced coma for three days and did not return to work for six months.
The document also states that Finley proposed cutting two-battalion chief positions in order to help pay for the radio system completion, then changed his stance and said he was no longer willing to make cuts in the department.
Other issues cited in the no-confidence document are as followed:
- Firefighter positions have not been filled as in accordance with the staffing model under the SAFER grant, which requires the city to increase its staff from 123 to 127.
- Threatening behaviors by the chief, including referring to subordinates as "mother f*****s"
- Other statements of violence and threatening violent acts toward subordinates, which violates his last chance agreement, including an incident when he told someone he would "throw them through a wall"
The document states in the conclusion that many younger members in the department have begun searching for careers at other fire departments, while some have already quit because of Chief Finley's actions in office.
The no-confidence report can be read below.