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Augusta investigating fire department for pornography use, city vehicle misuse

Probe now includes city vehicles misuse, pornography

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Add misuse of city vehicles and the dissemination of pornography on city computers to the growing list of issues under investigation at the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department.

Augusta Commissioner Joe Jackson confirmed Thursday that Deputy City Administrator Bill Shanahan was looking into allegations involving the viewing of pornography by firefighters and improper use of city vehicles among the fire department's upper ranks, four members of which announced plans to retire earlier this week.

"The allegations are out there, and Mr. Shanahan is looking into them," Jackson said.

Both Jackson and City Administrator Fred Russell said allegations of wrongdoing had been pouring in in recent days.

"It's like you opened a big box, and there are a lot of individual presents there," Jackson said.

The Augusta Chronicle last week unearthed evidence that Fire Chief Howard Willis' brother, Battalion Chief Tommy Willis, may have been using his position to steer business to a franchise called 1-800-BoardUp, which he manages for owner Bowles Construction.

Tommy Willis was placed on leave Oct. 6 while the city investigates the BoardUp allegations. On Monday, the chief, who'd been out on medical leave, announced he would retire when his leave ended. A day later, Willis' two deputy chiefs, Mike Rogers and Carl Scott, and his brother, submitted letters of retirement effective Nov. 1.

Shanahan did not return calls Thursday requesting comment about the allegations involving pornography and misuse of vehicles. Besides the BoardUp probe, he also has an investigation ongoing into a January incident in which broken protocols appear to have resulted in a firefighter being left alone in a burning house and injured.

Named acting fire chief Tuesday, Chris James has taken action on at least one of the issues.

The department has adopted a new policy regarding who to call, and who makes the call, to secure a home after it’s damaged by fire, James said.

A new flier, distributed to homeowners at the scene of a fire, lists in alphabetical order the names of four board-up companies fire victims can call to secure their home after it’s left damaged by fire, James said.

The list currently shows 1-800-BoardUp, First General Services of the CSRA, MRC Construction and Paul Davis Restoration, he said. James said other companies can ask to be added to the list.

The flier also specifies that a firefighter is not allowed to call a company, and that Augusta 911 will contact one of the companies should the homeowner not be present, James said.

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Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 10/14/11 - 03:35 am
0
0
Didn't Clinton try this same

Didn't Clinton try this same thing to get the heat off of him after he got caught? Come on man, the fire dept? Find a better opponant to put the heat on. Pun intended.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 10/14/11 - 08:19 am
0
0
I am wondering how long the

I am wondering how long the Chief's leave is and what is the medical reason ...... Look for it to go on and on and on..................

GodisSoGood
817
Points
GodisSoGood 10/14/11 - 08:35 am
0
0
I suppose Chris James will be

I suppose Chris James will be the saviour now......

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 10/14/11 - 08:57 am
0
0
1800boardup is listed first?
Unpublished

1800boardup is listed first? i object. put them last for starting with a number or third for starting with an "o." how responsible can bowles construction be held?

seenitB4
81269
Points
seenitB4 10/14/11 - 09:09 am
0
0
Ohh --oh...It is sooo hard to

Ohh --oh...It is sooo hard to get toothpaste back in the tube....the firemen know their fellow workers veeeery well since they live together 24 hours a day.....hold on to your pants folks....this will be a bumpy ride!

msgret92
121
Points
msgret92 10/14/11 - 09:18 am
0
0
If there were crimes

If there were crimes committed why are they being allowed to retire. They should be prosecuted and get no retirement benefits.

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 10/14/11 - 09:40 am
0
0
Because they earned those

Because they earned those retirement benefits. Punish then appropriately for any wrongdoing, but unless there is a contractual agreement about retirement forfeiture, that is not part of the equation.

faithson
4784
Points
faithson 10/14/11 - 10:09 am
0
0
'Tommy Willis, may have been

'Tommy Willis, may have been using his position to steer business', If true and provable there must be a severe consequence for a complete lapse in ethics. This type of behavior, a lingering remnant of the 'Walker days' must be purged from the system. I say, throw the book at him if provable ! What does it say when the 'supervisors' are corrupt.

Sergeant
0
Points
Sergeant 10/14/11 - 10:14 am
0
0
I am a sergeant on the

I am a sergeant on the Augusta fire department. I just got off of duty this morning Friday 10/14/11. I have heard no mention, scene no policy posted or through county email of any such policy touted in the article above by Chief James. I would think that after 4 chiefs leaving telling the truth and fallowing through would become imperative to commanding our fire departments 400 staff member vessel. Perhaps Chief James has adopted this policy himself, but without us people on the front lines being aware of any policy or its supposed implementation it does not exist. Augusta Chronicle staff please visit several fire stations this morning before our admin gets hip and see for yourselves if what our new chief says has been done, has been done. Just ask if you may see the policy. They will not have it.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 10/14/11 - 11:08 am
0
0
^ wow. ^
Unpublished

^ wow. ^

Fundamental_Arminian
1833
Points
Fundamental_Arminian 10/14/11 - 11:43 am
0
0
The dissemination of

The dissemination of pornography on computers? Why did the IT Department let this go on? Can't the people in IT tell when the Internet is being misused?

InChristLove
22420
Points
InChristLove 10/14/11 - 12:11 pm
0
0
"allegations involving the

"allegations involving the viewing of pornography by firefighters and improper use of city vehicles among the fire department's upper ranks"

These are only allegations at this point.

"Both Jackson and City Administrator Fred Russell said allegations of wrongdoing had been pouring in in recent days."

I'd like to know how many calls/messages have been pouring in and what constitutes pouring in.....two calls, five calls, fifteen calls????

Little Lamb
43827
Points
Little Lamb 10/14/11 - 11:35 pm
0
0
Let us remember who the

Let us remember who the ultimate responsibility is for behavior in the fire department — none other than Fred (What, me worry?) Russell. Yes, the Chief of the Fire Department reports to Russell. But Russell is not worried about being disciplined by his bosses, the Augusta Commission. They repeatedly praise his management style; the same style as Sgt. Schultz — “I see nuh - tink! I see nuh - tink!

Sweet son
9682
Points
Sweet son 10/14/11 - 08:33 pm
0
0
You go, all of you who want

You go, all of you who want to charge someone with a crime. Sounds like policy violations to me! Might not want to be so harsh! Might get some of your kind!!

waterman1
4
Points
waterman1 10/15/11 - 10:04 am
0
0
For those of you that don't

For those of you that don't know, the IT department monitors and has safegaurds in place to make it impossible to surf porn sites. Try it, you will get slammed furiously by IT within the hour. Let those that are doing it step up to the plate and inform us of their escapades. Bet we get no takers.

GodisSoGood
817
Points
GodisSoGood 10/17/11 - 09:13 am
0
0
The IT department reported on

The IT department reported on the news this weekend that NO EVIDENCE of wrongdoing has been found on any fire dept. computers.

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