An internal survey of the Charleston Fire Department reveals the health of the Department from the perspective of the firefighters. The survey was obtained by News 2 investigators in conjunction with coverage of the search for a new fire chief.
The survey included 82 questions that gauge morale, communication, and leadership at the Department.
“I want to love this department,” one firefighter wrote in an anonymous comment along with the survey. “I want to be proud of what I do, but the overall feeling right now is just hold our breath until a new chief comes.”
The survey found 64 percent of the firefighters reported low morale at the Department, and 50 percent responded communication is weak.
“The City of Charleston Fire Department has all of the ingredients present to make it a great place to work again, but the leadership has to change the way they operate,” another firefighters wrote.
One of the biggest issues facing the Department is pay. The survey revealed 74 percent of the firefighters are dissatisfied with their income, and many blamed pay for high staff turnover. The City’s strategic plan for the Department identified one of the biggest threats to the Department in the future is the quality of incoming staff, blaming pay as well. A new pay plan is effective February 10, 2018.
Several comments focused on the outdated, paper time sheets; difficulty working with the HR department; and concerns about fitness and accountability among fellow firefighters.
There is some very positive feedback from the firefighters too.
Many, 63 percent, answered they feel proud to work at the Department. Overall 75 percent hope to make the Charleston Fire Department a career.
The top four candidates for Department Chief visited the Charleston area earlier this week. The former Charleston Fire Chief Karen Brack resigned in March 2017, but she served with the Department until April 2017. It’s unclear why she resigned.