Two Carroll firefighters groups have issued votes of "no confidence" in the job performance of the county's director of public safety.
The Carroll County Fire Chiefs Association and the Carroll County Volunteer Firemen's Association took their actions to show their dissatisfaction with the pace of at least two important projects and with what they say is a lack of communication between the firefighters and public safety director Howard S. "Buddy" Redman.
"This has been the culmination of many years of a lack of cooperation on his part toward us, failure to work with us and communicate with us, and keep us involved in the process of running emergency services in the county," said Jeffrey Alexander, president of the Carroll County Fire Chiefs Association.
Doug Bostian, president of the firemen's association, said the no-confidence vote means "we are going to start going to other agencies in the county and overstep Buddy."
"I'm sad that this has happened, but as president of the association ... I have to do this," he said. "We will all pay if something [bad] happens."
Redman said he had heard only that a no-confidence vote had been taken but was not aware of specific complaints.
"I've always been willing to meet with them. I go to their monthly meetings. We go to the commissioners meetings quarterly," Redman said. "I've been there for 20 years and always been willing to work with them. There's not a lot you can do if they don't come to you."
County Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge said all sides need to discuss their concerns.
"It sounds like there's a lot of upset people and the best thing to do is sit down and listen to all the people and try to work through the problems," she said. "We need to find out what everybody's thinking and feeling, get to the bottom line, find out what the problems are and then solve them."
The fire chiefs association is made up of the line officers who are responsible for the daily operations of fire and rescue calls -- fire chiefs, assistant fire chiefs and lieutenants -- from each of the 14 volunteer fire companies in the county. The firemen's association handles the administrative duties of the fire chiefs association and the Carroll County Ambulance Association, which represents paramedics.
The fire chiefs representatives' vote against Redman two weeks ago was unanimous, Alexander said. He then asked the firemen's association to take a similar vote. The result of that vote, taken a week ago, was 12 for no confidence and two abstentions.
Alexander said that he will ask the county ambulance association's leadership to take a similar vote.
He said county emergency volunteers feel Redman lacks the experience as a firefighter or paramedic to carry out his duties effectively. Alexander complained that Redman's office has made little progress on two projects launched four years ago: the construction of a communications tower in the Lineboro area that would eliminate the problem of blocked radio signals in low-lying areas, and an effort to draw maps of the county that are detailed enough to show buildings and fire hydrants.
The mapping project is continuing with engineering firm Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson. Redman's office had threatened to fire the company last spring and is withholding final payment for the still-incomplete project.
Alexander also notes a "high frequency of errors in dispatching," such as not assigning proper equipment to a call and dispatchers not responding to calls from the field.
When told of the complaints, Redman said they were unfounded. He said he has done his job and has tried to keep the firefighters up to date with what he's doing.
"We're trying to get land for the tower, we're trying to get the mapping vendor to finish the project, and outside of going through legal processes, what can you do?" he said.
Redman said he has already ordered the Lineboro tower equipment and hopes the county will soon find a suitable piece of property for the project. He also noted that these projects often involve more than one government agency.
"There's the process you have to go through when something comes up, and you do what you have to to get the job done," Redman said.
Redman, 55, was hired in 1983 to be the county's communi- cations/civil defense administrator. His title has since changed to administrator of public safety. His salary is $64,818.
Redman's chief responsibilities are to manage emergency services operations for the county, and coordinate planning efforts for fire, emergency medical services and the Maryland Resident Trooper Program, according to the county Department of Human Resources. His other duties include administering the 911 program, communications center and emergency management program.
Alexander said the firefighters associations plan to take their complaints to the newly elected board of commissioners, which takes office next month, and ask for a reorganization of the office of public safety.