The Chelsea Area Fire Authority Board continues to struggle with the best way to solve personnel problems within the 12-member fire service ranks while grappling with a review of the documents that govern both the authority and its employees.
The board held both a work session and a regular meeting Tuesday morning and unanimously agreed to have Chief Jim Payeur bring proposals from two different consulting firms to the board that would review the administrative and operations portions of the fire service.
He estimated that the cost for a full review would be about $25,000.
In addition, Payeur brought forth a suggestion to form a citizen’s committee to look into the fire service operations and he asked the board to consider having former CAFA board member and former Lima Township Supervisor Gary Adams serve as its chairman.
Payeur said perhaps an outside perspective was needed to look into the animosity that’s taking place not only among the firefighters but also among new board members who took office following a failed union vote last November. There have been a number of accusations leveled by firefighters against other firefighters as well as against board members.
Following the failed union vote, there have been escalating personnel issues within the department and the board voted last month to take control of the hiring, firing, promotion and demotion of any fire personnel.
A policy, procedure and personnel committee has begun a review of the documents that govern the authority from its incorporation documents to the employee handbook and standard operating guidelines. But it’s been a slow-moving process fraught with accusations that the committee members overstepped the scope of their review. The process has also been derailed by a lack of consensus on procedural issues. This has been compounded by new board members who lack an institutional knowledge of authority processes.
Payeur recently realigned firefighter shifts and in a letter to all CAFA personnel titled “moving forward,” he re-stated the measures he’s taken to “restore harmony and cohesiveness this department has enjoyed in the past.”
He reiterated that he will not “tolerate any acts that serve to continue to propagate, support or build a negative atmosphere within this department. I expect all animosities to be dissolved and sincere, earnest efforts of team building to be undertaken by every individual employed by this department. Anything less is unacceptable and will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.”
He told the firefighters to “put the focus on performing our jobs and serving the citizens of the communities we love. I expect each member to accept personal responsibility for accomplishing this mission.”
On the board side, a work session has been scheduled for Tuesday, May 28 to discuss an undated version of CAFA’s governing documents.