Firefighters Take Up For Suspended Shift Commander

By: Brian Quick Email
By: Brian Quick Email

More than 70 firefighters were at Tuesday's City Council meeting to show support for a suspended shift supervisor.

They say this shift commander was suspended after testifying against the city in a public employees relation board meeting.

Neither the firefighters, the union or the council could comment on personnel issues, but reports are focusing on George Rocha -- who was escorted from his office last week.

Council member John Alcala said he sympathizes with the firefighters in their feud with Fire Chief Howard Giles -- but doesn't have the council votes to do anything about it.

This comes after 28 firefighters called in sick last Friday -- and 13 used sick leave Saturday.

Rocha was reportedly suspended last Wednesday.

Alcala called the suspended fire fighter an important leader in the Hispanic community.

The city announced Sunday it would not staff Engine 3 for an indefinite amount of time -- but it was staffed Tuesday.

Click the video for the City Manager's response, as well the Topeka Fire Captain who spoke to the council Tuesday.

Chief Giles said last friday's sick leave had a drastic impact on the budget for just one day.

He hopes it was an isolated incident but is looking into the matter.

He also said he has never taken a retaliatory action.

In other action Tuesday, council members voted to repeal an ethics ordinance.

The vote was six to one with Brett Blackburn dissenting and council members John Alcala and Syliva Ortiz abstaining, both have complaints pending against them.

The ordinance outlined a process for the city workers and elected officials to be investigated and punished for ethics complaints.


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