logo



UPDATE: Firefighters, MTAS recommend replacing Johnson City fire chief

Becky Campbell • Updated Mar 6, 2017 at 5:30 PM

A report compiled by the Municipal Technical Advisory Service after extensive meetings with Johnson City firefighters lists more than a dozen recommendations to city leaders, including replacing controversial Chief Mark Scott as the department’s head.

Three groups of firefighters — a total of 18 — met with an MTAS representative in February to develop recommendations in response to a 2016 fire department employee survey. That survey, which revealed firefighters have little confidence in Scott’s leadership, came after an internal investigation found the chief had not violated workplace harassment laws, but indicated he may have abused an employee.

City Manager Pete Peterson declined to speak to the media about the report until he’s had a chance to meet with firefighters.

“Mr. Peterson will be happy to discuss the report after he has a chance to meet with its authors, as they requested in the report,” city spokesperson Keisha Shoun said in an email. “That meeting will be scheduled as soon as possible.”

Firefighters interviewed during the internal investigation were brutally honest in their answers describing some of Scott’s behavior after he became chief in 2011. When Peterson finished that internal investigation he reported the harassment claim was unsubstantiated, but verbally reprimanded Scott for “locker room” behavior.

But firefighters did not drop the issue. After providing information about the allegations to the International Association of Fire Fighters, that organization voted to censure Scott during the 2016 annual conference. Firefighters also kept pressure on the city in an attempt to force Scott’s removal.

The alleged harassment was so bad that one firefighter said he was diagnosed with PTSD and could not return to work after being out on extended sick leave.

The recommendations from the firefighter and MTAS report were to:

  • recruit a new and qualified chief.
  • hold all employees accountable for their behavior.
  • fill vacancies in a timely manner.
  • implement an employee recognition program.
  • develop and communicate a long-range plan.
  • delegate duties to officers.
  • rebuild and emphasize the training department.
  • re-examine the command structure.
  • develop and implant a quality career ladder/succession plan that fills key positions.
  • fix the promotion process.
  • communicate departmental goals and happenings.
  • have an officer on every apparatus.
  • re-examine all policies and procedures.
  • revitalize the committee system.
  • examine support staff capacity.
  • work toward a minimum staffing level of three-persons per apparatus.
  • meet with the city manager to go over this report.

In addition to the first recommendation of hiring a new chief, firefighters also said Scott should not be placed in another slot in the department, the new chief should not be micromanaged, the chief should be someone who can “live our mission, values and goals,” must be truthful with employees and others and must “own” issues and not pass blame to others.

Scott is a veteran employee of the department and apparently eligible for retirement this month.

This is a developing story. Keep visiting JohnsonCityPress.com for more.

Earlier reported:

A report compiled by the Municipal Technical Advisory Service after extensive meetings with Johnson City firefighters lists more than a dozen recommendations to city leaders, including replacing controversial Chief Mark Scott as the department’s head.

Three groups of firefighters — a total of 18 — met with an MTAS representative in February to develop recommendations in response to a 2016 fire department employee survey. That survey, which revealed firefighters have little confidence in Scott’s leadership, came about after an internal investigation found the chief had not violated workplace harassment laws, but indicated he may have abused an employee.

City Manager Pete Peterson said he won’t speak to the media about the report until he’s had a chance to meet with firefighters.

“Mr. Peterson will be happy to discuss the report after he has a chance to meet with its authors, as they requested in the report,” city spokesperson Keisha Shoun said in an email. “That meeting will be scheduled as soon as possible.”

Recommended for You