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Ring the Alarm: Some NOLA Firefighters Have ‘No Confidence’ in NOFD Chief McConnell


On Saturday (4.29), members of the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) and their families and friends picketed the NOFD Headquarters in the French Quarter to protest Chief Timothy McConnell. The demonstration follows a week of controversy for the department after it was made public that several key firefighters — including McConnell — were involved in the contentious takedown of the Battle at Liberty Place monument early Monday morning. 

 

The picket came after an official union meeting in which NOFD members unanimously voted that the department has “no confidence” in Fire Chief McConnell. Firefighters are now demanding that McConnell be removed from all aspects of fire service. Though his role in the dismantling of the statute on Iberville St. has raised some questions in the community, the NOFD states that their call for immediate action is for a number of reasons beyond his involvement in Mayor Landrieu’s takedown. The full list of eleven allegations against McConnell are listed below. 

 

“We are here as a result of our members’ frustration with the continued poor decisions of Superintendent McConnell — period,” said Fire Union President Nick Felton at the Saturday picket. 

 

According to Felton, the unanimous decision was reached several months ago. “Recent actions,” said Felton — like McConnell’s part in the monument’s take down — made it necessary for NOLA’s fire service community to make their decision public. 

 

Felton continued, "The Chief’s decision to place Firefighters in the middle of the highly divisive monuments issue despite the existence of known potential threats and the fact that we are not trained for police-type work, has exposed our members to unnecessary risks. Consequently, our membership has no confidence in his ability to effectively safeguard them or the citizens they serve."

 

Felton and the NOFD have been under heavy scrutiny in the days following the controversial memorial’s dismantling. On Wednesday (4.26), the New Orleans Firefighters Association President first confirmed in a press conference that at least half a dozen firefighters were enlisted to take down the monument early Monday on Mayor Landrieu’s instructions. Photos taken by persons on scene early Monday morning seem to show several Fire Department members, including NOFD Superintendent Tim McConnell, as part of the team of movers. When asked about McConnell’s alleged involvement, Felton again remained firm in his stance that the Department is not directly involved: “I can’t really confirm that he is [involved but], surely looked like him to me.” 

 

The NOFD's complaints against Fire Chief McConnell, courtesy of Multimedia Solutions

  1. Chief McConnell supports, embraces and encourages Fire Fighters to perform tasks that they are not trained to do while putting Fire Fighters unnecessarily in harm’s way.
  2. Chief McConnell ignores standard operating procedures, which mandates that Fire Fighters do not wear riot gear or do police type work.
  3. Chief McConnell violates his own rule, which mandates that Fire Fighters not engage in Police Department Tactical Operations.
  4. Chief McConnell has dragged Fire Fighters into a messy, political, divisive monuments issue that we have no business being involved in.  This irresponsible decision jeopardizes Fire Fighters and their families. 
  5. Chief McConnell continuous to violate National Fire Standards, placing New Orleanians and Fire Fighters at great risk every day with improper staffing.
  6. Our fire trucks are unsafe, dangerous, and receive improper maintenance with slipshod repairs. Broken emergency lights, damaged suspension and failing brakes are daily occurrences.
  7.  On-duty firefighters (who are not certified) are being used to try to repair fire trucks.
  8. Chief McConnell has abandoned long established processes for merit-based promotion and replaced it with inconsistent and opaque personal subjectivity.
  9. Political favoritism is now used to promote within the NOFD. This is destroying morale and prevents a standard career path for Fire Fighters.
  10. Fire Fighters support the fact that every home should have proper working smoke detectors but Chief McConnell has ignored reasonable precautions from Senior New Orleans Fire Department staff advising against canvassing.
  11. Chief McConnell illegally gave 30 members of his staff thousands of extra taxpayer money which violated the Louisiana Constitution, New Orleans City Council and the New Orleans Civil-Service Laws.



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Contributors

Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde

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Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor

Alexis Manrodt

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Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

B. E. Mintz

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Stephen Babcock

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