Youngstown Firefighters Union says city is defending bad behavior of fire chief

Local News

The union issued a statement Tuesday after a statement by City Law Director Jeff Limbian

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown Professional Firefighters union responded to a statement made by the city’s law director after members’ vote of “no confidence” in the fire chief.

IAFF Local 312’s statement says Limbian’s response was “an attempt by the city administration to defend the indefensible, which is Fire Chief [Barry] Finley’s pattern of unwarranted hostile behavior towards subordinates and this flagrant violation of the terms of his 2012 ‘last chance agreement.'”

Ninety union members voted to send the finding of no confidence in Finley to the city, with union members saying Finley is unprofessional and a bully.

READ: “No Confidence Vote in Chief Finley”

Contained in Finley’s personnel file are references to past allegations of hostile behavior, including one incident in which he threw a coworker into a wall.

After the vote, City Law Director Jeff Limbian said the complaints are really originating from one person — Union President Charlie Smith, who was a finalist to become the next fire chief. He said Smith was upset that Finley was given the position instead of him.

READ: Six-page letter in response to union’s “no confidence” vote

According to a statement from the union, however, Limbian did not address the concerns noted in the Vote of No Confidence document.

“The response is a misdirection by the administration to cover up the documented unacceptable behavior that Fire Chief Finley has repeatedly engaged in. Not only is the Fire Chief’s behavior egregious and a violation of numerous workplace rules, but it is also the cause of a hostile work environment for members of the Youngstown Fire Department. Most concerning, however, Fire Chief Finley’s current behavior is a direct violation of the City imposed 2012 “last chance agreement” that was the result of his unwarranted physical assault on a subordinate,” read the statement.

According to Finley’s personnel file, witnesses said Finley “snatched” Lt. Terrance Gamble from a chair in the dining area and slammed him against one wall and then another, damaging the drywall. They said Finley demanded, “Where is my m*****f****** money?”

The reports say the dispute was over money loaned to Gamble by Finley.

Finley received an unpaid suspension of 45 days, or 360 hours, as part of an agreement to a lesser punishment, in an understanding that the International Association of Firefighters Local 312 wouldn’t challenge the agreed-upon discipline.

The union’s statement that was issued Tuesday also addresses what it says are inaccuracies in Limbian’s statement.

The document also contains several inaccuracies. Notable among these is the reference to Local-312’s executive board being unresponsive to perceived disrespect of the Fire Chief.

When called to his attention, Local-312 President Charlie Smith voiced his disproval of any such perceived disrespect to the Fire Chief and also cautioned all local-312 members that any such behavior would not be tolerated or defended,” read the statement.

The statement from the union said no one has questioned Finley’s qualifications but instead takes issue with his behavior in the workplace.

You can read the full statement below.

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