In a meeting with one of the 30 firefighters to leave Greenville Fire/Rescue, City Manager Ann Wall explained that officials in city human resources department never notified her that multiple firefighters wanted to speak with her.
Matt McMahon, a GFR lieutenant who resigned in October after 19 years, said City Manager Wall told him in a meeting on Thursday that she did not reach out to firefighters because their contact information was never passed along to her by the city human resources department.
“She (Wall) said that information was not shared with her,” McMahon said. “She did say ‘Well, I was not aware that all of these people wanted to meet with me’.”
McMahon said Wall didn’t allow him to record the meeting, but he recalled many of the statements the city manager made based off of his notes detailing the conversation.
The East Carolinian attempted to get a comment from the city of Greenville’s Human Resources Department Director Leah Futrell about why Human Resource officials were allegedly not returning calls or scheduling exit interviews with former GFR firefighters. Futrell was also asked if she could confirm multiple firefighters left their contact information with HR officials with the instructions to have the city manager call them.
However, on behalf of Futrell, the city of Greenville’s Public Information Officer Brock Letchworth said in an email on Friday that the human resources director would not give a comment to The East Carolinian.
The East Carolinian also tried to get a comment from Wall on Jan. 11 to explain why she wasn’t responding to firefighters who were attempting to contact her. However, the same day, Letchworth said in an email, the city manager wouldn’t comment to The East Carolinian.
“As previously mentioned, any employee or former employee who has a concern has an open invitation to address them with city management, which has been responsive to requests received,” Letchworth said in the email.
Rick Smiley, a city council member representing District 4, was surprised to hear that city staff did not pass off firefighter’s information to the city manager. Smiley added the city should always listen to its employees and citizens and make sure its systems are enabling those conversations to take place.
“It’s unfortunate that the (city) manager would not be told that an outgoing employee would like to speak with her,” Smiley said. “She has told me that she is always willing to speak to the employees and it’s important that everybody understand that that’s her position.”
McMahon said he did assume his request to speak with the city manager went unanswered until now because the information had never been passed on by city HR officials. He added he believes the city HR department was trying to suppress his opinion in hopes of it going away.
McMahon said he formed this conclusion based on what the city manager told him. McMahon added because the city manager explained to him that HR officials never passed on his phone number to her, he now blames HR officials for the breakdown.
“I have no other way to base it besides (having) no return phone call and when I offer information about why people are quitting and nobody calls me, it tells me that either nobody cares or the information isn’t being passed,” McMahon said.
In Letchworth’s email on Friday, he said the city doesn’t have any exit interview policy. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the employee to contact the HR department to have an exit interview.
McMahon said during the meeting, he did most of the talking. He said Wall and one of her assistant city managers, who McMahon couldn’t recall specifically, asked some questions but spent much of the time listening to him.
McMahon also said he noticed some of what he was saying seemed to be new information to the city manager.
During the meeting on Thursday, McMahon said Wall told him she is working with a number of firefighters to meet with them and hear their concerns.
“She said a few have already scheduled appointments to meet with her,” McMahon said. “She said she’s called some back, but they haven’t returned their availability to her.”
Wall has scheduled meetings in the coming weeks with more current and former GFR firefighters, according to multiple firefighters. Brian Oliver, a firefighter who resigned in 2013 following four years of service, said he will meet with Wall on Thursday.