Union Members Vote 'No Confidence' In Topeka Fire Chief

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More than eighty percent of the members of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 83 are calling for Topeka Fire Chief Howard Giles to resign, but city officials say they'll stick by him.

Thursday night, the union gathered for a second night to cast ballots in a "no confidence" vote against Giles.

The ballot asked if Howard Giles could safely and efficiently run the Topeka Fire Department, and if he should continue to be fire chief. Union officials say all but one vote said no.

After the closed-door vote, union members released a statement with a laundry list of problems concerning Giles. A lack of leadership, communication, and poor spending decisions topped the list. That list includes cutting short a program that replaces fire fighters' helmets.

City council member Lana Kennedy, listening in the crowd, was surprised by the information. "I was shocked to hear about the helmet," she says. "I definitely have concern over the replacement of gear. I understand that."

The vote cannot force any action. The hiring and firing power concerning the Topeka Fire Chief falls solely on Topeka City Manager Norton Bonaparte. Bonaparte says he supports Giles. "Chief Giles is the fire chief and will continue to be the fire chief. I support Chief Giles."