Fire department findings delayed again

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The completion of two city investigations into allegations of misconduct by fire department employees has been delayed for a second time since they were launched earlier this month.

Deputy City Administrator Bill Shanahan originally said he would release his findings Oct. 12 regarding two investigations he is hand­ling but later pushed the date to Oct. 17.

On Monday, however, Shanahan said they still had to be reviewed by City Administrator Fred Russell before they could be released.

Russell said he expects to release the results of the investigations Wednesday.

One investigation concerns allegations that Battalion Chief Tommy Willis has used his position and city resources to promote the 1-800 Board Up side business he manages, which secures homes after they are damaged in a fire.

The other probe is into an incident from January, in which firefighter Steven Jenne said he was injured because of broken protocol at a fire scene and a lack of follow-up investigation that was meant to cover it up.

Russell is also reviewing two additional investigations into the fire department launched Thursday, about the viewing of pornography by firefighters and improper use of city vehicles by the fire department’s upper ranks, four members of which turned in retirement letters last week.

Fire Chief Howard Willis announced Oct. 10 he would retire when his medical leave ended.

The next day, his two deputy chiefs, Mike Rogers and Carl Scott, and his brother, Tommy Willis, submitted letters of retirement, effective Nov. 1.

Chris James, who took over as acting chief Oct. 11, said he hopes to work through the cloud the investigations have placed on the department.

“I think once we can get past (the investigations), we can definitely start moving forward,” James said. “The negative press has really taken a toll on the employees. Once we can get through it, we will move faster to making it a happier place to come to work.”

Though the investigations have been trying, James said they were necessary to correct leadership shortfalls.

The department recently held its first staff meeting in two years. James has also made steps to correct the department’s consistent violation of policy by promoting 1-800 Board Up to residents at fire scenes.

Though some have called the allegations part of a coordinated attack by disgruntled fire department members, James said they identified things that needed to be addressed.

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tgentry
231
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tgentry 10/17/11 - 09:23 pm
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It is still a witch hunt.

It is still a witch hunt. This (IMO) is to take the investigation off of Fred Russle. A county Administrator who by no means has a good record of anything positive for the city. I will agree that porn issues within the department needs to be addressed. Look out RCSO as I know of many emails that are very risky to say the least. I would also look out for the ORA on the county cell phones that you use as well. I think a poster earlier in the Fire investigation mentioned that Fred had a side interest in Bicycle lanes? Tour de Ga, Iron Man etc. What has ever come of the 25,000.00 missing from the Tax Commissioners office? I for one applaud the RCFD for getting these burned out eye soars at least secured. I really do not think that the City/County would do anything to get this done. We have so many houses that are unsecured, vacant, run down hazards as it is. There is a big house on Central that burned last year. Is it secured? No. Has it been razed? No it sits there as a big eye soar and open for all kinds of criminal activity. Will the county do anything about it? No. I do not know the ends and outs of the RCFD but I can guarantee this. If my house were to catch fire. I would rather have the RCFD come to my rescue verses a county/city council person any day. At least I would know that the Fire Dept was doing their job as far as any of the people running Richmond County? well that has still not been proven. Good Luck to the Willis family. I hope you enjoy your retirement. Maybe the media will once again get back on track of real issues with in the Augusta Richmond County Government. OBTW who owns 1800 board up? Was it Bowles construction? hmm any relation to a commissioner?

dougk
3
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dougk 10/17/11 - 10:01 pm
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I, for one, am really against
Unpublished

I, for one, am really against eye soars. Down with eye sours.

PR
0
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PR 10/17/11 - 10:32 pm
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Time to get rid of Fred.
Unpublished

Time to get rid of Fred.

KSL
126242
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KSL 10/17/11 - 10:34 pm
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Augusta=Chicago

Augusta=Chicago

EMS6465
0
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EMS6465 10/18/11 - 05:27 am
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I agree with KSL I smell the

I agree with KSL I smell the odor of COVER-UP just like in Chicago. Keep pushing everything to a later date in hopes that some bigger news will break and the fire department investigation is soon forgotten.

GodisSoGood
892
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GodisSoGood 10/18/11 - 07:59 am
0
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Why hasn't the Augusta

Why hasn't the Augusta Chronicle reported that the IT department found NO EVIDENCE of wrong-doing on RCFD computerse It was on the news Saturday evening. Shame on the AC for not reporting it! For Chris James to say the negative press has taken a toll on the employees....he need not forget that the negative press was started by EMPLOYEES in attempt, for whatever reason, to oust the current Chief.

Little Lamb
45280
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Little Lamb 10/18/11 - 10:05 am
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Bantana, think of your

Bantana, think of your question in these terms — “If criminal wrongdoing is discovered, does the former battalion chief get to collect his Social Security payments?” The answer is yes. A pension is something which one has earned. It is an entitlement. The entitlement has nothing to do with one's criminal status.

InsideTraitor
0
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InsideTraitor 10/18/11 - 11:00 am
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The allegations are absurd,

The allegations are absurd, at least the ones concerning 800 Board Up. People with an agenda will do anything to get their way... I personally know the Bowles family and, yes, Bowles Construction runs 800 Board Up. Has anyone ever heard of a referral system? If your house burns down in the middle of the night, who are you going to call? ServPro? Good luck getting them out at 2am to secure your house (something that has to be done before the FD can leave)... If no one else will perform the service, is it a crime to recommend someone who will???? People with an agenda will say anything to get what they want. Shame on those people!

Little Lamb
45280
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Little Lamb 10/18/11 - 11:24 am
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Inside Traitor wrote: . . .

Inside Traitor wrote:

. . . to secure your house (something that has to be done before the FD can leave). . . .

Wait a minute. That does not sound right. Surely there is no law that requires a homeowner to secure his home, burned or not. If the homeowner wants to leave it open that should be his right.

Also, what if the homeowner is in Spain or otherwise cannot be contacted?

I would say that the fire responders should make an honest and reasonable attempt to contact the owner. If they cannot contact anybody willing to take responsible charge, then they should go back to the station and leave the property alone.

Little Lamb
45280
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Little Lamb 10/18/11 - 11:34 am
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Inside Traitor wrote: The

Inside Traitor wrote:

The allegations are absurd, at least the ones concerning 800 Board Up.

Here is the "allegation" concerning 800 Board Up made by acting fire chief Chris James (taken from the article above):

James has also made steps to correct the department’s consistent violation of policy by promoting 1-800 Board Up to residents at fire scenes.

Are you saying that there is no policy prohibiting a fire fighter from recommending one company over another and thus James' statement is false (absurd)?

Or are you saying that James has not made steps to correct the situation and thus his statement is false (absurd)?

InsideTraitor
0
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InsideTraitor 10/18/11 - 11:50 am
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If you want to talk about a

If you want to talk about a department with problems, let's talk about the Richmond County PD. I was robbed FOUR TIMES in a period of a week. When I requested a patrol... neither my neighbor, nor myself, saw a single patrol car until I got robbed the fourth time and re-requested a patrol. Some two weeks later I see a man trying to break into my neighbor's backyard. I called 911, was asked about 5 billion irrelevant questions and it took the cops FIFTEEN MINUTES to show up. When they finally did, they had no idea what was going on (the dispatcher relayed none of the information I gave her to them) and they proceeded to crack jokes before FINALLY getting in their cars to patrol my neighborhood for a guy who was five miles from my house at that point. But it doesn't stop there, folks. My neighbor a few doors down called the cops when a man tried to sell him a lawnmower (matching the description of the one I had stolen) at 1am... The dispatcher refused to send someone out because '(my neighbor) didn't provide an adequate description of the man'. HELLO?!?!! Just look for the homeless man pushing a LAWNMOWER down the street!!!!!!!!!!! Internal Affairs said they would, "Take care of it." Ya, thanks. Meanwhile I'm out of goods that will cost me more than I make in a month to replace.

InsideTraitor
0
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InsideTraitor 10/18/11 - 12:01 pm
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@LL I'm no lawyer but I have

@LL I'm no lawyer but I have been told that it is the responsibility of the FD to make sure a burned house is secure before they leave the scene. What does that entail? I don't know. Does it mean that if they can't contact the owner of the house that they have to pay to secure the house or secure it themselves? Don't be silly, I'm sure that's not the case. And tell me, if 800 Board Up is/was the only company that will show up at 2am to board up a house, is it wrong to recommend them over someone who won't? "I know it's the middle of the morning and you just lost your home and belongings, sir, but I'm legally not able to recommend anyone to you because it would offer an unfair advantage to a company who is willing to serve you right now over one who won't."

InsideTraitor
0
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InsideTraitor 10/18/11 - 12:13 pm
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@LL What's absurd is people

@LL What's absurd is people like you who would rather tie the FD's arms behind their back so they can't recommend anyone and leave the victim families to fend for themselves than allow what a few people MIGHT consider cronyism. 800 Board Up is an emergency program to help people in need. Do the victims have to use them just because they were referred? No. If they do use 800 Board Up, does that mean they have to use Bowles Construction for the restoration? No. Could the people just as easily call 800 SERV PRO... YES.

InsideTraitor
0
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InsideTraitor 10/18/11 - 12:18 pm
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@LL And, last but not least,

@LL And, last but not least, all this fuss has caused the need to replace four individuals who are going to collect retirement. Now we taxpayers get to pay double for the same jobs! Woohoo! How smart was that? Despite what a lot of self-proclaimed "do-gooders" think, sometimes it's better to leave well-enough alone. "Well, at least the 'right' thing was done." Great, let's send you the bill... I was fine with things just the way they were.

Sweet son
10051
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Sweet son 10/18/11 - 01:45 pm
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Inside Traitor seems like you

Inside Traitor seems like you have all of the answers for the FD. So many that I didn't read them. As for the robberies you need to move or not be in the places you have been for the four robberies! I think you might have been the victim of burglary or theft!

Cassandra Harris
-3
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Cassandra Harris 10/18/11 - 03:33 pm
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I'm not saying we shouldn't

I'm not saying we shouldn't be looking into corruption at the FD and other places, but I'm just wondering why the AC has not yet reported as other news agencies have that no evidence of porn was found on the computers and why the AC is the only news agency in town that did not report on the huge apartment fire a couple of days ago in which firefighters saved the lives of a woman and child who are currently in critical condition and saved a great number of apartments from burning.

GoodwithNumbers
0
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GoodwithNumbers 10/19/11 - 08:15 am
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Cover up … please! Long time

Cover up … please! Long time employees do not make over 20+ years of service by indulging in illegal and improper codes of conduct. The only place that you will see that porn was NOT found by the Richmond County IT Department will be in these posts. Fair & balanced reporting by the Chronicle?…NOT!

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