Mass. fire dept. gives chief vote of ‘no confidence’

By FireRescue1 Staff

GRANBY, Mass. — A group of firefighters gave their chief a vote of “no confidence” in a letter that cites a hostile work environment, fiscal irresponsibility and staffing issues.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported that 20 Granby Fire Department firefighters signed a letter stating they have “no confidence” in Chief John Mitchell.

“Due to numerous ongoing issues and the lack of a collaborative, respectful working relationship, the members of the Granby Fire Department feel that they have no choice but to take a vote of no confidence in the leadership abilities of Fire Chief John Mitchell,” the letter read. “It is with great disappointment that we have come to this unprecedented point in our department’s history.”

Chief Mitchell responded with a strongly-worded 12-page letter that called the allegations “outlandish and grossly exaggerated.”

“I am disappointed by the authors of this letter and the members of the department who signed this letter which include false, slanderous, ridiculous and fact less accusations,” the chief’s letter read. “I came to Granby when the department was, simply, in shambles. There was a serious lack of leadership, morale was extremely low, there was ‘in-fighting’ between the day staff that was spilling over into the call-force and a valuable member of the full-time staff was ready to walk out the door.”

The firefighters’ letter claims that Chief Mitchell is manipulative and hostile, and accused him of retaliation, censorship and lack of communication.

“We need a chief that is going to focus on the needs of the department as well as the community,” union President Lt. Mike Pandora said. “A leader that’s going to encourage more staffing, actually actively recruit staffing, and then maintain and train that staffing once they are there.”

Chief Mitchell said that while he denies any kind of manipulation, there have been passionate conversations with staff members.

“Some of the discussions we have are spirited, but … we come to a consensus and we move on,” he said. “These are grossly exaggerated claims and an attempt to incite anger and exaggerate the paltry accusations they have made with inadequate evidence.”

City officials have hired a special counsel to investigate the issue.

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