KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Tensions flared during a Thursday night meeting called by outgoing Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland to address a recent audit of the KCK Fire Department and its shift trading practices.
During the meeting, Holland planned to introduce an ordinance he said would help prevent firefighters from getting paid for shifts they didn't work.
But because only about half of the Wyandotte County Commissioners showed up to the meeting, it couldn't be recorded as an official meeting and Holland didn't introduce the ordinance.
Watch comments from fire and government officials in the video above. Watch the full meeting in the video at the bottom of the story.
An audience made up of largely firefighters attended the brief meeting, where Holland discussed findings off the recent audit. The key points of the audit he highlighted in Thursday's meeting include the following:
- Holland said the audit found nearly a million dollars was paid to firefighters who did not work the appropriate amount of hours to earn the money.
- Holland said the audit found shift trading often occurs between people of unequal ranks in the department, which could result in people who are under-trained leading shifts or driving trucks.
- Holland said the audit found paying colleagues to work shifts can result in people who are tired responding to critical calls, which puts them at a higher risk for injury. Any potential workers compensation suits would have to be paid by taxpayers.
Bob Wing with the local firefighters union said these claims are entirely false.
“The firefighters are somewhat being victimized for living by the rules," Wing said. "There were no violations of any agreed-upon rules that relate to this issue."
He went on to say other claims made by the mayor regarding this audit are false and that it’s insulting that Holland is making these claims.
“There are no taxpayer dollars involved here," Wing said. "That’s voodoo. I’ve been on record in my years in the department. There have been no reports to my office of firefighters being fatigued because they’re utilizing our shift trades. If there were, then I would have addressed them."
Wing didn't want to address comments his son made earlier in the day on social media, suggesting Holland needed to have extra security.
Wing did say he has retained legal council, and that this likely won’t be the end of the issue.
“When this is all said and done, I have every belief that these issues will be taken up in the courthouse,” he said.