GFR results press conference

Greenville City Manager Ann Wall and Greenville Fire/Rescue Chief Eric Griffin answer questions about Developmental Associates' evaluation.

Greenville city officials met Monday to announce the results of a six month evaluation of the Greenville Fire/Rescue Department. The report conducted by Developmental Associates found issues with morale, job satisfaction, training time and concerns about GFR’s leadership.

Greenville City Manager Ann Wall said she has had many conversations with GFR Fire Chief Eric Griffin about the GFR evaluation. Wall added even though GFR had a high approval rating from the public, “the report points out that there are some recommendations and some areas that we need to work to improve.”

Throughout parts of the Developmental Associates’ report, GFR’s leadership was found to be an issue with job satisfaction, and a contributor to the reason why firefighters have left the department.

When asked about GFR’s leadership, Griffin added that he didn’t believe the survey was “critical of the leadership."However, Wall never addressed whether or not Griffin or Deputy Chief Brock Davenport would remain with the department. 

“I think what the survey shows is the opportunities within the leadership and entire leadership to be able to improve,” Griffin said.

Wall said GFR has experienced high levels of turnover in the past two years and the department’s model is not sustainable.

Griffin said he is concerned about half of his staff reporting they were dissatisfied with certain aspects which pertain to retention.

“I want to make sure that we can increase the level of satisfaction and I think that report gave some very clear recommendations of things that we can do early on to increase satisfaction,” Griffin said.

Griffin said there are a lot of employees eligible for retirement who have already let him know so GFR will be having some continual staff turnover.

“We want to make sure we can capture the training and the experience they have now and hopefully convey that onto other staff as we move forward,” Griffin said.

According to the report, there is a “high level of dissatisfaction with leadership by many but not all in the department. While not uniform across employees, dissatisfaction crosses shifts, age and position.”

About 57 percent of those who responded said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with “communication of organization goals and strategies,” and about 67 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with senior leadership’s “trust with employees”.

In the report, Developmental Associates warned city leaders of the trust issues between firefighters and GFR’s leadership and how this could create issues.

“This has the potential to create a challenging atmosphere for everyone to perform effectively and a number of employees are directly reporting the challenges they are experiencing,” the report states.

The report also states firefighters at GFR were dissatisfied with multiple aspects of the department including leadership, communication, training, career development and that each of these areas would need to be addressed.

As part of the evaluation, Developmental Associates surveyed current GFR firefighters, members of GFR’s spring academy and firefighters who left the department within the last couple of years.

“The main reasons for leaving GFRD as cited by respondents were related to morale, leadership and other work dissatisfiers,” the report states. “In the GFRD Active Duty Survey, trust between employees and different leadership ranks was highest for station officers and lowest for senior leadership.”

According to the report, out of all the different positions, the greatest dissatisfaction was reported with senior leadership by the majority of respondents. However, the report said there are GFR employees who are satisfied with their senior leaders.

Wall said Heather Lee, senior partner at Developmental Associates was “optimistic” with the results and that the department does “great service” and by working together the department and GFR employees, they will be able to “make some real impact on some of these issues.”

Wall said she plans on continuing to “maintain this great level of service” held within GFR. Wall added she is confident through the work of the department, GFR is going to be able to tackle many of these issues and continue to provide great service.

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