Woodinville firefighters union announced a vote of no confidence in Woodinville Fire & Rescue Chief I. David Daniels at Monday’s Board of Commissioners meeting.
The union’s 59-0 vote was nearly unanimous with four members abstaining, according to Greg Ahearn, president of IAFF Local 2950 which represents Woodinville firefighters.
Ahearn emphasized that the vote was not about wages and benefits, or contract negotiations but about the way the chief is mismanaging the department, according to the union.
Reading from a prepared statement during public comments, Ahearn blamed the chief for loss of the district’s international accreditation through the Center for Public Safety (formally CFAI), for failure to adequately protect the area of Hollywood Hill once serviced by closed as a result of Kirkland’s annexation of Kingsgate, elimination of a public education position while over expanding the fire district’s administrative staff, and spending down the district’s reserves.
“Never before in the history of this fire district had there been a vote of no confidence in a fire chief,” Ahearn said. “This is an unprecedented action and a somber occasion.”
Woodinville firefighter and union board member Tony Woods spoke next, reading the official no vote resolution. Chief Daniels sat impassively while the list of grievances was formally read.
Representatives from six other firefighting unions in the Puget Sound spoke in support of Local 2950’s vote, including Shoreline Firefighters Local 1760, Snohomish Local 2781, Eastside Local 2878, Mercer Island Local 1762, Bellevue Local 1604 and Kirkland Local 2545.
After public comments closed, the commissioners continued the meeting’s agenda with no comment on the union’s vote.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion,” said Chief Daniels after the meeting.
While the Chief appeared unfazed by the vote, two board members expressed surprise at the union’s position.
“I’m surprised and disappointed,” said Commissioner Clint Olson. “I thought we were coming together. I have to think about what’s next.”
Board Chair Tim Osgood said he too needed time to think about the union’s vote before he would be ready to comment but said things would be worked out. Commissioner Kevin Coughlin was not at the meeting and the board had not yet filled the seat left vacant when last month citing health issues.
“This happens all the time,” said Commissioner Bob Miller after the meeting. “It’s just one of the ways of doing business. There are a lot of other things we need to focus on besides this.”
What the union will be focusing on now is waiting to see what the board does with the no confidence vote.
“We are requesting the board search for a new fire chief,” Ahearn said after the meeting. “We’re hoping this vote creates that dialogue.”