INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - Independence Fire Chief Sandra Schiess received a vote of no confidence Friday by the 148 members of the Local 781.
Union President Kirk Stobart said Schiess is no longer the right person for the job.
"We do not have faith in her to continue in her position," Stobart said.
His letter to the city said, "Chief Schiess' polices continue to undermine public safety in Independence, and we cannot stand by and let our fire chief put the public or the firefighters sworn to protect the public in jeopardy."
His letter claimed Schiess plans to take trucks out of service during a time when call volume is going up.
Schiess said the vote of no confidence is frustrating, adding that the last two years have been tough because of the economy.
"With the economic downturn, we've had to reduce the number of personnel on some shifts, so we've been trying to figure out how to increase staffing and provide the highest level of service," Schiess said.
Meanwhile, longtime Independence resident Chuch Harmon said he hopes fire officials can come to an agreement that doesn't put his family at risk.
"We want to be safe here in Independence. We want to keep our families safe," Harmon said. "When we cut back on necessities like that, that puts a lot of lives at jeopardy, and that's just one thing we don't need to have here in Independence."
The city manager said Schiess had not made any permanent changes but was simply suggesting to get the conversation going.
He said the reductions in staff have actually improved. Two years ago, there were seven firefighter positions vacant, and now there are four, according to the city manager.
He plans on discussing the union's claims with both the Schiess and Stobart next week.
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