Charlotte firefighters unite, dispute claims of inequality

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Dozens of Charlotte firefighters filled Monday's city council meeting, eager to speak about their experiences in the department.

This comes after the city council reportedly received anonymous letters complaining about inequality within the department as the city manager works to hire a new fire chief.

Concerned firefighter Joe McBride helped organized the first responders in an attempt to end the in-house bickering.

"Our administration and our department has problems, but in the end, it's up to us to continue to do our jobs," he said.

One by one, the men and women of the Charlotte Fire Department shared their stories of why they choose this profession and why there's no place they would rather be than the Queen City.

"My fire station is my fire house, my immediate family," Omar Curbelo said. "Every other station in the city is where my extended family lives, my cousins, my uncles and my aunts."

Some of the firefighters chose to address the complaints.

"Over the past few years there has been a small group of anonymous letter writers," Betsy Barnard said.

Minority firefighters denounced the claims in the letters, standing behind the current practices in place.

"Not once have I experienced negative, segregated, unsatisfied or disrespectful crews," Trina Davies said. "I am treated with respect and accepted by every member."

Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt acknowledged the spot left open after former CFD Chief Jon Hannan retired in August. "We are without a leader right now, we have interim chief Key, and so that's always going to create confusion and question marks," she said.

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She said these questions will be answered soon as City Manager Marcus Jones works to hire the best next person for that job.

In order to make that decision, she said Jones is spending time going to different firehouses and speaking with various employees.

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