MARTIN COUNTY, FL – Things are heating up between a local firefighters union and a Martin County commissioner, who’s being accused of insensitivity.
The debate is now going viral.
Lt. Todd Tucker posted a 4 and a half minute video Monday night on his union’s Facebook page, going after Commissioner Ed Fielding.
“He’s in a position to vote on very important public safety issues and those things just crossed the line,” said Lt. Tucker, the Vice President of IAFF Local 2959.
Those things included a comment that came during an open county commission meeting discussion earlier this month on a new firefighter training facility.
Commissioner Fielding is heard on the video saying, “We’re not Chicago with 50-100 stories. I mean great day what have we got 4 stories? You can throw a rope up there and climb the wall with that.”
“It scares us to know there’s a guy in a position of power who thinks that about what we do. Because if you translate that all the way down, it means we’re not going to have the equipment we need because he doesn’t think we need it,” said Lt. Tucker.
After Martin County firefighter Jahwann McIntyre was seriously burned in a house fire last December, the union requested meetings with all 5 county commissioners and says only Fielding has said no to this point.
Commissioner Fielding told NewsChannel 5 Tuesday his ‘rope’ comment wasn’t necessary.
He added he does value firefighter safety, and suggested to Fire-Rescue the use of Indian River State College’s training complex for free rather than build a new facility.
“It was minimized and the response was more along the lines of we’re doing our training local and we’re OK,” said Fielding.
The commissioner said the timing of the video is curious with union negotiations to start up soon.
The union says major negotiations are at least a year off.
Martin County Fire-Rescue Chief Joe Ferrara could not comment on the Facebook posting, but reiterated that the need for a nearby training facility still exists.
“Palm Beach County has one, St. Lucie County has access to Indian River State College. That’s 45 minutes away. I don’t want to take fire trucks that far out of the county,” said Chief Ferrara.