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This is an open letter to Patrick Easton, president of the Diamond Springs/El Dorado Professional Firefighters Local 4972:
The Board of Directors of the Diamond Springs-El Dorado Fire Protection District values the dedication and commitment of all the employees of the district both career and volunteer.
The Fire District Board has been elected to direct and approve policy and provide oversight to the administration of the fire district. The board feels that Chief Robert Combs is competent and qualified in executing the business of the district as directer.
The Board of Directors of the district has and will continue to support Chief Combs and his administration and finds the allegations of Local 4972 to be without merit.
Chief Combs has been successful in developing strong working relationships with neighboring agencies. He is operating with a balanced budget, has purchased a new engine and replaced safety equipment. He has funded previously unfunded liabilities such as medical benefits after retirement and is ultimately doing an excellent job of managing the district.
The board recognizes that the organization is going through a tremendous cultural change as many of the long-term employees have retired and the new administration is responding to fiscal challenges and implementing new ideas.
Staffing within a smaller organization is always paramount and becomes more difficult during fiscally challenging times. All career positions are currently filled, however, the district has been responding to a large number of employees off duty due to injury or illness. Chief Combs’ leadership team has responded to this shortage by hiring limited-term employees, increasing the use of volunteers and expanding our resident program. There have been a total of seven employees in the past two years that have been required to work mandatory overtime and no employee was required to work mandatory overtime more than once per year. The use of mandatory overtime is not desirable but can become necessary due to operational need.
The board finds any disparaging comments regarding Chief Combs’ integrity or professionalism to be highly inappropriate and finds it very counterproductive to a cooperative working relationship.
The administration looks forward to an improved cooperative working relationship with its employees. Chief Combs is committed to continue work toward the completion of a comprehensive memorandum of understanding. The board encourages the employees to re-establish effective communication with the chief and his administration.
The board has been informed of all of the administrative challenges and supports Chief Combs 100 percent. The Diamond Springs-El Dorado Fire District Board has no intention of asking Chief Combs for his resignation.
Diamond Springs/El Dorado Fire Protection District