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Disciplinary action upheld by CKF&R
Commissioners for Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue District voted Monday to uphold a disciplinary action taken against firefighter Ronny Smith.
After a 20-minute hearing at which attorneys for the district and for the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2819 which represented Smith, the board opted to uphold a letter of reprimand against Smith for what the district termed as “insubordination.”
Commissioners voted four in favor and there was one abstention. Commissioner Dick West did not vote because he was late to the meeting and was not present for the hearing at which the attorneys spoke.
The disciplinary action was taken by the district following an attempt to question Smith about information that was posted to the Kitsap Fire Watch website. The district contends that the information was private and should not have been disclosed. The action stemmed from Smith’s refusal to answer questions about the incident. Smith said he would not answer questions because it pertained to union activities which he said was protected. Smith is the vice president of the local firefighters union.
The district, however, said that under its code of conduct, Smith should have answered the questions and then filed a grievance if he thought the district had violated his ability to do his union work.
Mike Duchemin, attorney for the union said that Smith was correct in his actions not to answer questions, and that he later answered the questions in a second hearing at which he had legal representation.
“We believe he was wrongly asked to talk about union activities,” Duchemin said.
Sofia Mabee, the district’s attorney, however, said that Smith’s refusal to answer interfered with CKF&R’s investigation of a release of patient information protected under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).
The matter now moves to grievance arbitration at the state level. Smith said the union expects the chief’s decision to be overturned.
In other matters:
Commissioners approved a policy that allows the public to open carry firearms into district meeting rooms as allowed by state law. The policy also allowed those with a concealed weapons permit to carry concealed weapons in the same areas.
Commissioners voted to give notice to the county Fire Marshal’s office that it will terminate its agreement to do fire inspections within the district. The district contends it no longer can afford to do them at a cost of about $250,000 annually.
It remains unclear whether the county will do them, as prescribed by law. It is anticipated that the county and local fire districts will begin discussions about the future of inspections sometime soon.
Commissioners approved having architectural and engineering design work completed, not to exceed $20,000, for repair and/or replacement of the HVAC system at Station 56. They approved a bid of $50,063 with Hanley Construction to re-roof the central supply building.