Crisis in Aptos/La Selva Fire District

Crisis in Aptos/La Selva Fire District

By Noel Smith

Aptos/La Selva Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comThe Firefighters of local 3535 — Aptos/La Selva Fire District — of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) have unanimously voted “no confidence” for Fire Chief Jon Jones.

In a letter to the Fire District board, the Firefighters wrote, “Unfortunately, after nearly three years of failed leadership, a complete lack of communication, the inability to compromise, and the absence of a strategic plan for our future, we have come to the firm conclusion that the only way to save our Fire District is to change the leadership with a new Chief.”

The letter ends with the following, “As Chief Jones is finishing the third and final year of this contract with the Aptos/La Selva Fire District, we realize that he will likely be requesting a two-year extension of his contract. We implore you to deny such a request.”

The union’s letter cites the following:

  • “Internally our Firefighters’ morale has never been lower.”
  • “Chief Jones’ management style has alienated our division Chiefs and Firefighters alike resulting in an organization that is in disarray without direction.”
  • “The threat of discipline is frequently used as a tool for intimidation and retaliation.”
  • “Lawsuits are now a regular part of our District as the Firefighter Bill of Rights and labor standards are consistently violated.”

The Times asked the Aptos/La Selva Fire District board for a statement regarding the union’s position.

In part, the board’s response reads:

Aptos/La Selva Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.com“Criminal and Civil Legal Actions Pending — The Aptos/La Selva Fire District is awaiting decisions of the Sheriff and District Attorney’s Office about very serious allegations made against a union official. The Union and the District have also been charged with sex discrimination, which charges are working through the California Department of Fair Employment.”

“District Services Study in Progress — The Board directed that an outside consultant complete a study of the District services, which will be completed in June 2017. This is a routine best practice in all public agencies, especially since no similar study has been done for ten years. The firefighters union resisted the study. The Board is hopeful that the union will cooperate with the study and consider its results.”

“Study to Dissolve the Aptos La Selva Fire District and Merge Into the Central Fire District — Both (the Central Fire district and Aptos/La Selva Fire district) unions have told the Aptos Board that they want the Central chief to take over as chief of Aptos. A discussion about the study group is (on the agenda) for the Aptos Fire Board on Thursday night, April 13, 2017. Before the Board could discuss the proposal, the Aptos union sent its flyers and mailers seeking to remove the fire chief to facilitate the Fire District dissolution before the public can make the decision to dissolve the Aptos La Selva Fire District.”

For the full text of the union’s letter, CLICK HERE.

For the full text of the board’s letter, CLICK HERE.

The full text of the union’s letter to the board and the boards letter to the Aptos Times will be posted on our website.

Aptos/La Selva Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comJon Jones took over the reins of the Aptos-La Selva Fire Protection District as its chief on October 20, 2014, replacing retiring Chief Jeffrey Terpstra. Chief Jones came from the Orange County Fire Authority in Southern California, where he was Fire division Chief for Division 1 which covered the communities of Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Westminster, Los Alamitos, and Seal Beach with seven fire stations and 107 employees.

Jones was born and raised in Orange County, California, and graduated from Mission Viejo High School and Cal State Long Beach. Jones is married to Tamara and they have two children, Son Jon-Patrick and Daughter Sara.

Chief Jones became a firefighter in 1982 giving him 35 total years in his profession.

Encompassing 27 square miles, the Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District serves a population of approximately 30,000 residents with a 2016/17 budget of just over $12,800,000.

The District operates three fire stations with nine Firefighters, 12 Firefighter/Paramedics, 9 Fire Captains and 3 Division Chiefs who supervise Fire Prevention, Operations, Emergency Medical Services, Training and Support Services. The Division Chiefs share incident command duty coverage on a rotating basis, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The District also has a Deputy Fire Marshal, Director of Business Services, Fire Prevention Specialist, Administrative Assistant and a Fire Chief, for a total of thirty-eight employees.

In 1930 the Aptos Fire Protection District was established as a volunteer organization and hired its first full-time employees in 1964. In 1968 the District constructed Station #1 at 6934 Soquel Dr. District and constructed Station #2 at 300 Bonita Dr. in 1973. The District implemented the County’s first Paramedic Program in 1978. In 1985 the District joined with La Selva Beach Fire Protection District and added Station #3 at 312 Estrella Dr. in 1985 and finally consolidated with La Selva Beach FPD in 1986.

The District boundaries include Aptos, La Selva Beach, the Day Valley Area, the Spring Valley Area and was finalized with the Eastern Boundary Area in 2007.

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