JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Just two Johnson City firefighters who participated in an anonymous employee survey said they have a high level of respect for Chief Mark Scott, according to a report by University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service.
In fact, of the 86 firefighters who took the survey, 91% said they have little confidence in their fire chief’s ability to effectively lead the department.
“There is very little support for the fire chief, very little confidence in his ability to lead, and strong indications the department is not well managed,” the MTAS report said.
The surveys revealed if firefighters could change one thing, 53 said they would change the chief, 14 the organizational structure and nine the city manager.
“An important tension currently exists in the Department,” the report concluded. “There is a continued love for the fire service and for what members do on a daily basis. However, a number of destructive dimensions, related mostly to the Department’s leadership, have had a negative impact on the Department’s culture, morale, and vision for the future.”
City commissioners have told the city manager to come up with a plan to deal with the problems within the department. A city spokesperson previously told us the city manager was waiting on the results of this study before coming up with his plan.
“This Report should only be considered as an initial approach to finding and addressing issues in the Department,” the report said. “As mentioned throughout the Report, additional research is needed to more closely pinpoint areas where specific issues occur. Along with this research, strategies can then be developed to move forward.”
After receiving a copy of the results today, City Manager Pete Peterson shared the report with fire department employees, thanking those who participated and urging them to share their feedback.
“Upon completion of your review of the report, I would welcome any comments or thoughts you may have on how/where to proceed from here,” Peterson said in an email to staff.
Peterson has agreed to address the findings and his plan moving forward in an on-camera interview with us Friday.
Representatives of the Johnson City Firefighters Association say they are hopeful the results will prompt action.
“It has said what we’ve been saying all along,” Vice President Kurt Bennett said of the survey results. “It’s shown that it’s not just a small group within the fire department. Hopefully, they’ll be able to make an informed decision from here on out. Now there should be enough to make a decision, some corrections. We’ll have to wait and see.”
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