FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The City of Verona administration received information from Local 311 about issues in the current working environment in the City of Verona Fire Department. Some of this information involved allegations dating back to 2015. The City Administrator initiated an investigation based on this information, and myself and the chair* of the City of Verona Personnel Committee have been involved in the investigation of Local 311’s concerns since the beginning.
The City hired The Riseling Group to investigate the situations raised by Local 311. The Riseling Group conducted a thorough investigation which included interviews of more than 25 members from the City of Verona Fire Department and Fitch-Rona EMS., Mr. Dale Burke from the Riseling Group compiled comments made by Fire Department employees and FitchRona EMS employees titled “A Summary of the Culture” which was provided to City Administration on September 25, 2018. The Riseling Group’s report is not an analysis of the Fire Department by Mr. Burke or The Riseling Group. This report is simply a compilation of general concerns received during interviews into the narrower issues subject to the investigation.
These concerns identified solvable problems within the Fire Department, and the City immediately acted on these issues by establishing an implementation plan on October 10, 2018 to address these general concerns by the employees in the Fire Department. City Administration met with and discussed these matters with Chief Giver and communicated their expectations and developed a plan to enhance the culture and professional direction of the Fire Department. Following are several of the specific initiatives the City is undertaking in the Fire Department to further the professional development of our staff and Department leadership:
• The Fire Department will establish a Mission, Vision, and Strategic Plan;
• After approval by the appropriate City Committee and Council, the Fire Department will undergo policy review and implementation with external support and update for major policies, including professional standards;
• The Fire Department will undergo unlawful harassment, discrimination, and retaliation training along with other City personnel;
• The Fire Department will undergo cultural sensitivity and interpersonal communication training;
• The Fire Department leadership will work to delegate responsibilities to Department members, communicate with greater collaborative focus on matters of Department importance including seeking input from members, and formalizing programs.
• The Fire Department will identify education and training opportunities relative to specific job duties and responsibilities; and
• The City will continue to monitor the Fire Department work environment in furtherance of ensuring a professional culture.
Chief Giver is fully supportive of these efforts.
I have studied the report provided by The Riseling Group in detail. Public safety is a top priority for me. While it appears some of these issues have been ongoing for some time, City leadership is committed to solving problems no matter when they started. The City of Verona believes in inclusion and a positive work environment for our staff, and we will continue to work to ensure that every City department is well run and provides high quality services to our community.
Under Wisconsin law, Verona's Police and Fire Commission is the ultimate authority for disciplinary matters in regards to the fire department.
*This includes former alder Elizabeth Doyle before her resignation due to moving out of the city of Verona and current chair alder Sarah Gaskell.
City of Verona Mayor