In the ongoing saga surrounding the Brooksville Fire Department, another firefighter has been placed under investigation. This makes four firefighters who are currently being investigated by Brooksville Police Detectives and one, Hillary Sanford, who was fired a few weeks ago. If all four of these individuals lose their jobs, Chief Freda will have fired almost 30% of the employees under his direction.
Many of these firefighters have been with the Brooksville Fire Department for a long time. The most recent investigation was opened against Joseph (Joe) Keefer who is less than ten months from retirement. Keefer is also the President of the Brooksville Professional Firefighters union, Local 4661.
The investigation against Keefer was opened because of an email he sent to the Mayor and City Council Members. The email detailed what he, as the local union representative, felt were violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement the City has with the firefighters.
Because of the email, shown below, Keefer has been accused of Failure to Follow Chain of Command and Insubordination for notifying City Council of his concerns as the union representative.
Several individuals close to the situation feel that Chief Freda and City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha are retaliating against Keefer for going straight to City Council Members. However, Keefer clearly states in his letter to Council Members that the union’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is contracted through the Mayor. Not the Fire Chief and not the City Manager.
Keefer explains his actions in the letter stating, “I am sending this to all members of council members, as we are aware that during your term in office anyone of you can and will be the sitting Mayor. This is to inform you of current legal issues and violations of the CBA within the Fire Department.”
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