Fire board to discuss independent investigation into fire chief’s services to district

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Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

After receiving a letter as a formal Vote of No Confidence against District Fire Chief Scott Huntley in May, the North Lyon County Fire Protection District Board of Directors voted last month to hire an independent third-party investigator to look into issues relating to services provided the district by Huntley.

Thursday, the board will discuss issues related to that investigation during its regularly scheduled meeting, starting at 6 p.m. at the Fire Station at 195 East Main St.

The item on the agenda regarding the chief is “Discussion and Action regarding Independent Investigation of issues relating to the services provided by the District Fire Chief.”

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Paul Murphy, president of the North Lyon Firefighters Association IAFF Local 4547, presented a letter to the board May 24 as a formal Vote of No Confidence against Huntley.

The letter reads:

“The Union membership unanimously shares in the opinion, based on continued observation, that District Chief Huntley has willfully neglected to capture additional revenue sources for the District, provide a direction or future plan for the District, develop and maintain positive working relationships with the City of Fernley and neighboring agencies, demonstrate intimate knowledge of the District’s Budget, demonstrate appropriate fireground safety in relation to fireground strategies and tactics, not maintain a positive and working relationship with the Union.

“The result of the aforementioned shortcomings and failures has culminated into the current stagnation of the District, an ultimate failure to provide optimal service to the community, and substandard safety for staff. This vote was conducted amongst all members of the Union after much discussion and careful consideration of all currently known facts.”

At the board’s June 14 meeting, the board voted 3-0 to choose an independent third party investigator to look into the questions of how well Huntley has performed his contractual duties. The board currently has two vacancies, due to the resignations of board members Jon Osborn, who moved out of the district, and Steve Carr, who cited health issues.

The board also presented Huntley with his annual evaluation at that June meeting, and the three remaining board members were split in their evaluations of Huntley.

Board member Dan McCassie doubled down on his assertion made in his 2017 evaluation that Huntley should be fired.

“My closing statement stands the same as last year,” McCassie wrote. “The Chief needs to go!!! The Board of Directors needs to do its job as elected officials to protect the community and manage the Fire Protection District. It is time the Board step up and do what is right.”

Each board member rated Huntley on a scale from 1-5 on 10 different categories. McCassie scored Huntley as a “1” on seven of the 10 categories, and “2” in the other three.

Regarding the vote of no confidence by the union, McCassie wrote “As a board, if we choose to do nothing with this vote, then we are not doing our job as stewards to our community.”

Carr, who completed his evaluation before resigning effective June 12, scored Huntley “2” in six categories and “3” in four others.

In his comments, Carr said Huntley needs “better communication on all levels, oversee, but not micromanage district affairs and improve relationship with staff.”

Director Vern Watson scored Huntley as a “4” in eight categories, with a “5” in one and a “3” in another.

“Recommend to meet work with staff and team work consistently,” Watson wrote, adding the district needs more command staff.

Director Pat Hon scored Huntley a “3” in nine categories and “2” in the other.

“Chief needs to improve communication with staff and union,” Hon wrote. “Recommend he meet with each staff one on one and as a group to work toward a resolution of departments discourse.”

Osborn, whose letter of resignation was submitted May 20, did not complete an evaluation.

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