Dear Mayor O’Caña and Council Members Ortega-Ochoa, Plata, Garza, and Vela:
As employees of the Mission Fire Department, we proudly serve the citizens of our city. Our Association strives to be a good partner with the City and find ways to deliver excellent service, be good stewards of city resources and give back to the community.
For more than 3 years, we have sought to help address the increasingly urgent operational and leadership issues within the fire department. The fire department administration has rejected nearly every opportunity to resolve issues that include unnecessary risks to firefighter and public safety.
The persistent leadership failures and indifference of Chief Gilbert Sanchez and Assistant Fire Chief Rene Alvarez to the daily operations of the fire department are troubling. So are the lack of department transparency and the chiefs’ failure to follow city council and staff direction. Amidst constant, but baseless discipline threats. the chiefs have made our workplace toxic and hostile. The predictable consequence is all-time low firefighter morale despite our love of our profession. When the alarms sound in our fire stations, too many of our firefighters rush to fires and EMS calls unnecessarily fearing their job security and other department issues.
For that reason, and after much discussion and contemplation, Mission firefighters undertook a vote of no-confidence regarding Chief Sanchez and Assistant Fire Chief Alvarez. According to the results of the vote, a large majority of our members have lost confidence in both chiefs. Despite anticipated further threat of workplace retaliation, Mission firefighters are standing up for what we believe is right for the city, for the citizens and for firefighter families. We urge you to investigate the operations and leadership of the fire department. We stand ready to cooperate in finding a better way forward for the fire department.
Thank you for your time and consideration.