Firefighters cast ballots, vote 'No Confidence' in Tulsa Fire Chief

Posted at 1:03 PM, Jul 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-11 15:24:43-04

TULSA -- After several days of voting, more than 75 percent of firefighters cast a "No Confidence" vote in the Fire Chief of the Tulsa Fire Department, Ray Driskell.

Jim Nance, president of the Tulsa IAFF Local 176 union, said "It’s unfortunate it’s come to this,but members felt like they had no other choice but to take a stance and stand up for what they felt was right. I believe the vote gives members a chance to voice their concerns and lets management know the dissatisfaction Tulsa Firefighters have toward their chief.”

The last time a Tulsa FD Fire Chief received a vote of "No Confidence" was in 1992.

Nance outlined the following list of complaints that union members have against Driskell:

"1) Chief Ray Driskell continues to be the center of lawsuits. His decisions and abuse of power have cost taxpayers over $155,000 so far. There are currently two pending lawsuits against him and the city of Tulsa.

2) Union members have a major issue with the chief possessing a firearm on-duty and in a public building without being CLEET certified, which violates state law. Firefighters are told from the day they’re hired; firearms are not allowed at the stations, or city property. The union is still unsure why Mayor GT Bynum said Chief Driskell would remain in his position after resolving the matter quote “in accordance with City of Tulsa work rules relative to employee discipline.” Regardless of the City of Tulsa work rules, it is still a violation of state law.

3) Chief Driskell continues to demote firefighters without following proper procedures. A recent example of this is his treatment of Captain Nick Gillespie. We feel Chief Driskell assigned Captain Gillespie “Administrative Duty” to teach him a lesson. That rash decision cost the city around $50,000 in overtime costs to cover Captain Gillespie’s absence.

4) Members feel the way the fire chief hands out discipline is heavily weighted with favoritism. His “friends” get out of trouble without consequences while others are too harshly punished. This disparate treatment violates the very fundamentals of “just cause” discipline guaranteed by our contract with the city.

5) The union currently has five pending arbitrations because the fire chief personally didn't care for someone. We have received proof Chief Driskell is berating and cussing at employees on a regular basis. Tulsa Firefighters should be treated professionally and with respect even when receiving disciplinary action.

6) There are dozens of grievances we have or have had because he disregards contracts and Administrative Operating Procedures. Our union has negotiated both in good faith over the years, and it’s not being adhered to by Chief Driskell."

The Tulsa IAFF Local 176 union is comprised of nearly 700 current or retired members of the Tulsa Fire Department.

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