Fire Chief and City Manager Issue Statements Regarding Release of Confidential Memo

Please see the below statements from Fire Chief Jon Hannan and City Manager Ron Carlee.  

 Statement from Fire Chief Jon Hannan

I am very proud to have had the opportunity to serve the City of Charlotte and Charlotte Fire Department for the past 37 years, and humbled by being permitted to serve as the Fire Chief for the past 8 years.  During that period I’ve been privileged to work with what I believe to be the finest fire department in the world, with many wonderful colleagues and friends, and with the support of Charlotte’s City Manager and its City Council.  In a phrase, I’m very blessed.

I also believe that part of leadership includes integrity, and that integrity requires acknowledging mistakes, learning from them, and moving on.  Earlier this month, I made a mistake involving the release of a memorandum from City Manager Ron Carlee that involved our fellow firefighter, Marty Puckett.  I have apologized to Mr. Puckett for that mistake.

I received a copy of the memo from an Assistant City Manager on Friday, March 4, 2016 as I entered a meeting with her and members of the City Attorney’s office.  At the conclusion of that meeting, I mistakenly understood that all topics discussed at that meeting, including the memo, had previously been made public through the actions of others.

A reporter contacted me the following week, on March 9, about the matter.  When contacted, I mistakenly understood that the reporter already had access to a copy of the memorandum.  With that misunderstanding, I provided a hard copy to him at his request.  I regret not verifying more completely on March 4 or on March 9 whether the memo had in fact already been released and become public record.  I subsequently learned, on or about March 20, that it had not.  After being out of town earlier in the week of March 21, I disclosed all of my actions and understandings about the memo and its disclosure during meetings on March 23 with the City Attorney and the City Manager.

I also regret that there is some misunderstanding about whether I have acknowledged providing the memorandum to the press.  I believe that press reports misconstrued statements I made on the evening of March 28, 2016 after the City Council’s closed session meeting concerning this matter.  At that time, I stated that I did not know what had occurred in that meeting and that I would not have a statement until I knew what the City staff advised me to do.  Unfortunately, a reporter misconstrued that to the effect that I denied releasing the memorandum – which I did not do.

In his discretion, City Manager Ron Carlee has decided to put a reprimand in my personnel file concerning these events.  He also has decided to place me on a three-month probationary period.  Because I acknowledge my error in releasing the memo, I accept that reprimand as appropriate.  As accomplished, stalwart, and amazing as our Fire Department is, it – and my leadership – can always be improved.  We have an average response time of 4 minutes and 33 seconds from “call pick up” to “on scene,” but we can do even better.  Our cardio pulmonary resuscitation success rate is 50% once we arrive on scene and encounter persons needing that treatment, but we ought to save even more people.  We are pleased that the insurance industry recognizes our accomplishment – and vigilance for our citizens – in moving us to an ISO Class 1 from a Class 3, but we must not become complacent in providing fire service as effectively, efficiently, and transparently as possible.  The Fire Department is – and I am – committed to continuous improvement.

In closing, I again want to thank the Fire Department for its service to our community, and our community for the opportunity that I have been given to continue to lead the wonderful men and women in this department.  I also thank the City Manager for his ongoing support and understanding that people can learn and recover from their mistakes.  I have and I will, that I promise.

Statement from City Manager Ron Carlee

Charlotte is very proud of its Fire Department and has deep appreciation and respect for the men and women who keep the City safe every day.  There are numerous examples of individual heroism and extraordinary professionalism in their efforts to save lives and to protect property.  Fire Chief Jon Hannan has had a long and distinguished career and can be proud of the outstanding Fire Department that he has helped build and continues to lead.

Today Chief Hannan also issued a statement describing his mistake in releasing confidential information that was part of an employee’s file.  He apologized for this error and accepted the consequences for this violation of policy. I respect him for doing so.

Charlotte is in a period of transition, during which it is important to provide stability and consistency in day-to-day operations in order to keep the City moving forward.  During this time, it is especially important that our leaders hold themselves and each other to the highest standards and provide support to one another, working toward the mutual success of the city.  The Fire Chief has committed to model these behaviors. I will support him in doing so.