Safety Complaints Go Unheeded
A DOZEN VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS IN PEYTON, COLORADO, have turned in their badges and resigned from the fire department after their pleas and complaints about the fire chief conducting unsafe working practices went unresolved.
Fire Chief Jack Rauer (KRDO image)
Fire Chief Jack Rauer, who has held the post for two years, has come under fire for unsafe practices and had been on paid administrative leave for two weeks while the Peyton Fire Protection District’s board considered the charges. The board had a regularly-scheduled meeting last night where they were expected to announce that the charges were unfounded and reinstate the fire chief. However, two of the board members failed to show up and there was a lack of a quorum to conduct business.
At that point, most of the volunteers who hadn’t already resigned spontaneously threw their badges on the board’s meeting table and stormed out. KRDO-TV Ch. 13 had a camera crew on the scene and recorded the dramatic moment in this video report:
KRDO-TV has also published the list of complaints presented by the firefighters to the board:
1) The Chief responded on two separate occasions driving a department vehicle between 90-100 mph with firefighters on board. On one occasion he drove from Colorado Springs back into the district at those speeds. The other occasion he responded to a call in Calhan traveling at that speed down Highway 24 with a probationary firefighter on board.
2) The Chief being an EMT responded to four separate calls where he abandoned patients which is a clear violation of law and oath. This is a very serious liability to our department and is a violation whereas his certification should be revoked. The Chief makes contact with a patient and then leaves the patient in the care of probationary firefighters who are not EMT’s. This has happened on two occasions and witnessed by a community member who testified to the board of directors.
3) The Chief has submitted his Fire 1 recertification to the State Fire Marshall that he signed himself which is a violation of the terms of recertification. No firefighter witnessed his completion of the requirements of the recertification. This process requires his paperwork to be signed by a firefighter with equal or greater certification.
4) The Chief has retaliated against at that time a Captain who questioned him on the use of the departments command vehicle. As a result of the Captain’s questioning he was demoted to firefighter.
5) The Chief has misused the departments command vehicle by responding to a mutal aid call where the department asking for assets such as an engine and tender and did not request him or the vehicle. Calls can be made to surrounding Chief’s to verify this situation. When this has happened it leaves our district short personnel and vehicle assets.
6) The Chief has discriminated against two firefighters by naming them in front of other firefighters by asking why they were not on the call. This happened several times.
7) The Chief on a major structure fire instructed three fire tenders (Water tankers) to run over fire hoses. This could have resulted in a firefighter being seriously injured due to the fact that there were firefighters inside the structure. Fire hoses are not to be run over by any vehicle or object due to the fact that they could rupture causing firefighters to possibly be trapped in a burning building.
8 - The Chief is the only paid position at the PFPD and does nothing on a daily basis to ensure that all vehicles and medical supplies are checked and ready for use. On three separate occasions medical supplies were expired and he wants to blame the Medical Officer instead of taking the time he was hired for to do firefighter task.
9) The Chief has removed the generator from the engine which powers our exhaust fan used on structure fires. The fan is vital for firefighter safety and he refuses to put it back on the engine. The Chief on two occasions wanted to remove the fan too stating that it was not a requirement of ISO. This alone could cause a firefighter his or her life.
10) Finally, the firefighters have said that they do not feel safe with the current Chief in charge.