South Tahoe firefighters vote no confidence against chief


By Kathryn Reed

South Lake Tahoe firefighters have taken a vote of no confidence against Fire Chief Lorenzo Gigliotti.

The lack of credibility, communication and leadership are the issues firefighters have with the chief.

Gigliotti, who will have been at the helm for six years as of January, did not know about the vote until contacted by Lake Tahoe News.

Lorenzo Gigliotti

Lorenzo Gigliotti

Asked if the news came as a surprise, he said, “Absolutely.” He considers his relationship with the rank and file members as “pretty good.”

The members, who belong to International Firefighter Association Local 4427 and the South Lake Tahoe Firefighters Association, have been disgruntled for a number of years with Gigliotti’s leadership.

It wasn’t until this fall that the vote of no confidence was taken to ensure it wasn’t just the lousy economic situation that was influencing perceptions of how things are in the department, as well as three years of on again, off again contract negotiations.

Union President Dan Sullivan deferred comment to Kim Gillingham of Goyette and Associates, the union’s labor representative based in Gold River near Rancho Cordova.

“We distributed the executive evaluation form to all of our members. We did meet with the city manager about four weeks ago. We told him the vote of no confidence was done,” Gillingham said.

City Manager Tony O’Rourke told Lake Tahoe News, “I haven’t gotten anything official. I heard grumblings, but I haven’t heard anything official. I would expect a letter or some communiqué.”

Gillingham said another meeting had been set up two weeks ago with O’Rourke and Human Resources Director Janet Emmett, but O’Rourke had to cancel. It was rescheduled for a day when a storm hit. Another meeting has not been set.

“The goal is not to create more acrimony or compromise the community, but to share concerns so we can improve the department,” Gillingham said. “This was not a traditional vote of no confidence. The vote of no confidence was to ensure the concern raised was a universal perception, and now what to do and how to start to create transparency.”

But in paramilitary organizations like a police or fire department, a vote of no confidence is sending an unmistakable message that officers are demanding changes – whether it is personnel or behavior.

O’Rourke said he wants to talk to the union and the chief to resolve the issues. He believes critical critiques can be “a road map for improvement.”

“It gives me concern, but it also gives me the opportunity to help him and the help the department to improve in those areas,” O’Rourke said.

He is conducting a survey next week of all city staff – which he has wanted to do since being hired in August. He is interested to see if what the firefighters say on that survey is similar to what the union is presenting.

Issues the firefighters have are working in a culture of fear – some were even afraid to participate in the vote of no confidence, Gillingham said. Fear of being black listed or not being promoted are concerns.

“The fear runs pretty rampant,” Gillingham said.

She said the union wants all parties to work together, but that hasn’t happened for years.

A memorandum of understanding the union has with management is there will be regular meetings between the two. Gigliotti has essentially eliminated those.

Gillingham says this exacerbates the distrust employees have with the chief.

Firefighters aren’t thrilled with some of the expenditures the chief has authorized either.

The duty chief response vehicle was replaced in the 2009-10 budget for about $52,000. But fire personnel who spoke to Lake Tahoe News off the record, which gets back to the fear factor, said this vehicle is not needed because all the chief officers have a vehicle and one of them is retiring at the first of the year.

What bothers the men and women in the department is what they call reckless spending for an unneeded vehicle when it wasn’t until March that a 1982 fire engine was taken out of service. It no longer met state emissions standards.

“It is not the practice of the fire department to require fire department employees to sign any form of waiver or ‘liability form’ to drive,” Gigliotti said.

But that isn’t what more than one firefighter told Lake Tahoe News. They said management asked for the form to be signed before this particular vehicle was driven.

Gigliotti said this engine has not been replaced because there has not been the funding to do so. It costs about $70,000 to replace. So, management got a vehicle, but the firefighters have one less to use.

Funds for fire vehicles come from Proposition 172, the state safety sales tax, Gigliotti said.

“Proposed within the 2010-11 budget was the pursuit of grant funds to replace an engine, however, the 10 percent match created an impact which compromised a balanced budget so it was determined to pursue grant opportunities and should a grant be funded, to bring the grant back to the council for consideration and possible budget amendment. The result is this activity does not appear in the current budget document,” Gigliotti said.

It is the City Council that ultimately decides which vehicles to buy – so they chose the manager vehicle with all of its bells and whistles instead of an apparatus to fight fires.


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Comments (56)
  1. 40yearlocal says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    This Chief is a Buffoon and his firefighters are the biggest bunch of cry babies on the face of the planet! The golden children of our town (aka SLTFD) don’t like how the Chief runs the place. Cry me a river. If anyone has seen any of these guys it’s pretty apparent that most of these guys and gals are pretty new to there jobs. I remember an article from years ago regarding a fire department issue that seems to have been carried over to today.
    The title of the article was “Self Above Service”. These people should all be fired. It wouldn’t be to tough to replace them.

  2. 30yearlocal says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    It always seems that public employee unions who take these votes (like with police chief) don’t try to make things work with their leaders. Seems things go right from vote to the press.

    Leadership in a public entity is a tough one…have to please four diverse groups: tax payers, employees, city management/ city council and the community. It seems like differences should be able to be dealt with via an open group meeting. Once firefighters understand reasons behind decisions they should come out with clear understanding of the common goal.

    Lorenzo is a good guy who does a lot for this community….his “bosses” at the city should back him up and support him, just like expected in any business. You don’t want to lose another leader without trying to make it work….you know how much the process for a new person costs? Every time we lose one we pay more for the next, pay off retirement and back pay, pay a team to find the new one and the list goes on.

    You have my support Lorenzo!

  3. doubleblack says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Firefighters? Wait a second. Aren’t over 90% of their runs for medical emergencies.
    If it wasn’t for med emergencies they would hardly ever leave the station.
    Time for a name change that describes what they really do.

  4. grannylu says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Putting an article like this in the news for the public to read is certainly not helpful! Com’on, work things out within your department! Don’t air your dirty laundry. You need to act like adults.

  5. 10yearlocal says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Are you kidding me? Do you really think that the Union didn’t try to resolve things first? Do you really think that the Fire Chief works in a vacuume? Just because you don’t know what the process is, doesn’t mean it’s not working. The Fire Chief is trying to blame the vehicle issue on the City Council – beware Council Members….this is his business as usual.

  6. Bob says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Why not aire the dirty laundry granny? I pay for their services and need to know where my money is being spent. Just like Mr. Wikileaks. To see what the government is doing behind our backs is crucial to getting the right people for the money we pay them in my opinion. Transparency is what they call it nowadays. It once was called honesty though.

  7. Carl Ribaudo says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    It is unprofessional that the union would not have the courtesy to meet with the chief first, before going to the City Manager.

    Also, the union is opening a pandora’s box and shining the light on the fire department, be careful what you wish for.

  8. 10yearlocal says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Why would the union go to the fire chief first? Didn’t you read the article? They’re affraid of him because he does things to punish people he doesn’t like.

  9. That guy says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    There has yet to be an informed, well-articulated reply or post here. Even though I may not necessarily agree with what the Fire Chief has done with that department at times, he is still well educated and has a high level of training. Lets show some respect and dignity. It is possible to disagree with his leadership and communication style without name-calling. Likewise it is possible that the firefighters who work for him might, just maybe, have a better working knowledge of what problems exist than you do. And maybe, just maybe, after 6 years of frustration over those same communication and leadership issues chose to bring the discussion to the City Manager. Did anyone else catch the City Manager’s political side-step. Maybe I’m reading into this. The article says that the Union met with him four weeks ago…..but he just heard “grumblings”???? Come on! Leadership means dealing with issues that are brought before you. That was a politician’s statement if ever I heard one.

    And unlike the rest of these uninformed posts above, I actually asked the Union president if he took this to the press. Nope. He was just as surprised by Kay Reeds phone call as the City Manager. This was being dealt with in house and was meant as a corrective procedure. Not a public argument to have out in the press. So whoever took this to has an axe to grind. So please. Before posting, try to have an informed opinion instead of reverting to junior high name calling and conjecture. If you don’t know. Ask.

  10. k9woods says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Kae, as usual a great report!

    Why did the union go around the Chief to the new City Manager and press before ever exhausting their avenues with the Chief? There are laws against retaliation and workplace harassment. If this is truly an issue then the condemnation belongs at least in part with the lack of effective union representation.

    Why hasn’t the new City Manager received a documented report of the “no confidence” vote? Based on this report, it reads more like a smear campaign.

    As for the vehicle, take a step back and look at the new vehicle as not a personal asset awarded by the council, but a tool for the position. No matter what name you use, the vehicle goes with the position.

    I don’t personally know any of the players here but think there’s a bit growing up to do all around.

  11. 10yearlocal says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    wow – some of you are missing the point. There is no position for the new vehicle to be attached to AND one guy is retiring. That leaves two vehicles without any people to drive them.

    I agree with the political side-stepping of the city manager. Looks like he was given an opportunity to fix this 4 weeks ago and he didn’t do anything.

  12. Steve says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Why do all the chief officers have their own personal fire department vehicles? They can’t all be working at the same time. And why would the city council elect to purchase yet another one that appears to be unnecessary for $52,000 instead of replacing an old fire engine already taken out of service for $70,000?

    Beware the tax increase measure probably lurking in the shadows to replace that old fire engine. With the usual bureaucrat claims that they have cut, cut, cut to the bone and have no other choice.

  13. 40yearlocal says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Sorry about the name calling but I’ll call a spade a spade. The message here is the vehicles. No they should not buy vehicles if they don’t need them. I hope it was a typo but The Chief stated it cost $70000. to replace the engine that was taken out of service. A cheap Engine will cost around half a million plus new equipment to go on it. It also stated the the old Engine was taken out of service because it did not meet emission standards. If this is true doesn’t that mean the 1982 Ladder Truck needs to be taken out of service as well. Now there is a big ticket item that our city can’t afford at around 800k to a mil. These whiners need to get all of there facts straight. I don’t think Gigliotti deserved a vote of no confidence. The whole Fire Department deserves a total “VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE”

  14. That guy says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    @40 year local: You’ve been here for 40 years so you must know that city government is never efficient. I agree, the $70K is a typo for a new engine.
    Here’s some irony for you: The concern about the vehicles came from the UNION and it came quietly until some disgruntled person called the press. You are contradicting yourself in your message. Here’s why. The issue has been brought forth that spending in the fire department is in question. This seems to have been brought forth by the Union. But then you turn around (name calling again….) and call the Union whiners. They are just as concerned as you are. They agree with you.
    “The whole department needs a vote of no confidence”????? What a ridiculous statement. I think I just found someone with an axe to grind.

  15. Geeper says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Self above service……the real truth! Brought to you by the largest part of the city budget who got their regular raises for the past several years. Read their MOU on the city web site.

  16. 23yrlocal says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    This reply is for “40yearlocal” and “doubleback’s” ignorant post and the rest of you who are passing judgement on the individuals who assist, rescue, save and risk themselves for complete strangers! First of all, your numbers are wrong. Secondly, firefighters do not respond only to medical calls and fires. The medical calls alone are enough to show some respect for the service and protection they provide for you and your family.

    These men and women are exposed to ALL bodily fluids including blood that may be infected with hepatitis, TB, HIV and much more. Some of these medical calls include gunshots, stabbings, suicides, skiers into trees and drug overdoses. Oh, and performing CPR on children!

    Just to list a few, firefighters are trained to handle emergencies like car accidents, broken water, gas and power lines, different types of rescues, hazardous materials, flooding and God only knows what else. Oh and fires!

    Do you realize when you are warm and comfy in your bed at 3:00am, these guys are up dealing with a combative drunk from out of town who vomited and is bleeding all over from a fight he had earlier! I should also mention firefighters are away from their families for four to five days at a time including holidays.

    So “Doubleback”, here are a few possible name changes; Valiant Helpers, Selfless Responders, Common Individual Do-Gooders, Community Protectors… how about Heroes! I have close friends and family members who are teachers, police officers, firefighters and sheriff officers. Despite what you may think, these people are put into situations you wouldn’t wish upon your worse enemy. These men and women who protect your family, friends and community are very normal people who have spent many years in school and training to become these selfless providers. Yes, they have pensions, rightfully so, but these careers have very low pay. Just ask, it’s public record!

    I agree with “That Guy”, there are very few informed and educated replies about this article. The City Manager should step up and be a leader and manager! I did some research and I challenge each of you to do your own before making ridiculous comments or judgements.


    If this job is so easy to obtain and do then you should have become a firefighter. Shame on you for your pure ignorance. You sound like a very unhappy and angry man -I am truly sad for you. Firefighters, police and teachers are people that help us to live in safe and civilized communities. Show some respect!

    So here are some facts:
    * The union didn’t go to the media
    * The union did try to work things out with their chief for years
    * The union did give notice to the city mgr, hence their attorney
    * SLTFD runs over 3,000 emergencies a year
    * I love the SLTFD programs for our community: school programs, fire safety, Xmas truck, Santa’s House, Fire fest, SLTFA donations to local sports teams, toy drive, CPR classes, etc.
    * SLTFD is paid considerably lower than most departments in California and deal with more challenges working in the mountains.
    * SLTFD’s firefighter pay is half of the national average
    *Firefighters have an average life span of 7-10 years after retirement
    * The average life span for the general public after retirement is 20-22 years

    Do a little research before making an uneducated reply and sounding really dumb.

  17. Geeper says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    2 new Brush rigs 1 1/2 years ago. $52,000 to replace a shared Battalion rig with 100,000+ miles on it. Firemen are good people with an important job. I think they have it better than our troops and police, no one shoots at them. Maybe this time they are pushing the envelope a little. No disrespect meant just my 2 cents.

  18. longtime local dude says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    I respect and like fire fighters… I have many friends who are fire fighters. I am envious that I cant make 100k / year, get paid to work out, have a big screen in my break room and the most insane retirement ever. By doing this I can have a huge new house, new diesel truck, all the toys in the world and the time for my own side business / family. Handling the 3 in the morning bleeding drunk is no problem when you know you’re getting 5 days off in a row. I should have been a firefighter… Lorenzo seemed like an OK dude to me… Of course, like 23 yr local alluded to, I have no idea what im talking about.

  19. HARDtoMAKEaLIVINGinTAHOE says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    I THINK NEW SNOWPLOWS FOR THE CITY STREETS IS MORE IMPORANT, THE FIRETRUCKS ARE GARAGED; SHINED, WELL MAINTAINED, DON’T GET THE CONSENT ABUSE THE GRADERS GET. Whenever the city gets its act together, the tourist return to help pay for the tools we need as a community ,then check out the new show floor of new fire trucks ,high tech machinery.
    As far as pay goes, if you can get, go for it.
    There are no fences around the city keeping anyone from finding better paying jobs elsewhere.
    Ceo, Fire Chiefs, Chief of Police, the Foremen on a big building project don’t always get the respect They deserve, but someone stress factors pays for the unit’s performance no matter what public opinion claims.
    The whole nation is a bloody mess with cost cuts in every category of job description, community needs.
    Over the years here in town, I’ve had the fire units at my home, one for a fire, another was for a relative having a stroke.
    There’s no amount of gratitude you can give for them to be there when you need them.
    They did some tearing up, but the home insurance came in made it better than it was, cool, I liked that, plus couple 1000 in the pockets for doing the work myself.

  20. Parker says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Hey 23 yr.local, you’re right in that’s very tough to become a fire fighter in that the line is long to get those jobs! They are very well compensated, especially for this town! And while they do some stressful things, they also have A LOT of downtime! It’s also extremely inefficient to have separate City & County Fire Depts. In fact I know of instances when they’ll show up at each others calls, not because they’re needed, but because they have nothing better to do. That’s a fact!

    It’s also a fact that if you pull a City Employee side, even a member of the PD, and go, “Hey you gotta admit you’ve got it pretty good?!” They ALL say, “Oh, we don’t have it as good as the Fire dept!”

    With their sweetheart deal it’s tough to see what the firemen could be complaining about? Except for the fact that they do take pride in their appearance and fitness! And besides the purchase of any unneeded vehicles, I know the personnel of our Fire Dept. have a real problem with Chief Gigliotti in that regard! Heck, just look the LTN photo!

  21. 23yrlocal says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    “Longtime local dude”, You’re right, you don’t know what you’re talking about. The only firefighters in this town that make 100k a year are at the mgmt level(chiefs).


    Firefighters also do not get 5 days off in a row. As for the insane retirement, that has a lot to do with the low pay and the hazards(some listed in previous posting) of the job that most people don’t want to do. I know for a fact there are a lot of our local firefighters that rent their homes -not own.

    Please stop taking stabs in the dark and generalizing, you sound so ignorant.

    I think you are 0 for 3 or 4 on your statements. You might be right about one thing… you should have become a firefighter if you are that envious.

    More facts:
    * SLTFD firefighter annual salary before taxes is 33,728-44,574
    -fire captain 59,712-78,935
    You can find this info on the State Controller’s website and compare it with other positions in SLT or other cities

    * The majority of fire depts in the country have at least 3 FFs on their trucks and alot of them have 4 FFs

    *SLTFD have 2 FFs on their trucks

    Again, I suggest you do some research before making statements or forming opinions about things you THINK you know!

  22. NorCal Fireman says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Enough! Parker and Longtime local dude. C’mon. I don’t work here but I GUARANTEE no one goes to calls because they have nothing better to do. The last time firefighters sat around the station playing cards and waiting for fires was in the 1960s. The work load is far greater than you guys realize. The work week is 56hr/week. Not 40. I work for a dept in the Sac Valley and make twice what these guys make. And I don’t have to work in the snow. The responsibilities are much greater. Of course there are some perks. Just like any other job. My wife just read through these posts and told me: “Sounds like the locals are the whiners….”
    I will say that I agree with Parker on one point. It is very inefficient for the City and County to run two separate organizations. With one dept you could divide the total number of Chief positions in half which would save both communities some coin.

    Lastly I would suggest that if you have a beef with the fire dept then you should stop in for a ride-along or just ask some questions. As a firefighter, the most common statement I hear after someone does a ride-along is “wow, i had no idea how much you guys do…” or after responding to a particularly rough call, “I could never do what you do…” Food for thought. Does that mean we deserve special treatment? No, it just means we will keep doing what we do in spite of the few people out there who don’t appreciate their public safety employees.

  23. not a local anymore says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    To the local haters. There is a reason firefighters have nice stuff. They went to school, learned how to do what is needed to save lives, buildings etc. they dont get paid much but they know how to save money. Most locals get paid and the money goes to the dealer,the bartender or the casino. So choose your words wisely because it might be you stuck in car with no way to get out or your house burning down

  24. 23yrlocal says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Hey Parker, I’m not arguing that firefighters don’t have perks, they ought to for all of the bad and stressful stuff they deal with. Especially for the shortened life expectancy! The reason for the “long lines” as you put it, I imagine is because of the security, retirement and time off.
    I do agree with you whole heartedly both city and county fire depts should be one
    dept. I would like to bark up that tree and find out why that hasn’t taken place yet. It makes sense in every aspect; cost efficient, better service to the community and you could probably trim the “mgmt fat”.

    You stated:
    -well compensated, especially for this town
    -lots of downtime
    -they’ve got it good
    -sweetheart deal

    What exactly is your point Parker?

    If I understand you correctly, your sarcastic remark about SLTFD having pride in their appearance and fitness leads me and everyone reading your post, to believe we should have a fire dept that look like slobs and should be out of shape or unfit? As a taxpayer, I definitely want the people protecting me and my family to look good and better damn well be in good shape! For something as simple as a 150lb patient being on a 2nd floor needing to be carried down on a gurney, the firefighters better be in GREAT shape!

    If you don’t like your job, then make a career change. If you do not like the lack of compensation “in this town, then move. It’s not a big secret that firefighters love their job, they will openly admit that. That doesn’t mean they can’t strive to have better leadership(if that is the case) or have concerns about careless spending.

    I’m tired of the remarks made in these postings like everyone here is a part of the SLTFD union or dept. Do you REALLY know what the ins and outs of the fire dept issues are or do you just think you know?

    The only whining and complaining I’m hearing are from these postings! It sounds like there are a lot of disgruntled, cry babies that should either make a career change or just be quiet! Quit your crying 40yearlocal!!

    Lets make judgements because we know all the details… so easy to hate from afar. Walk a mile in another person’s shoes, then state your educated opinion with accuracy.

  25. Citizens for a new Fire Chief says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    This fire chief is an imposter. He has no formal education. He is only 45 years old! What a mess!! His only prior CA fire experience was as a volunteer in San Diego County. He has been unable to obtain employment in the California Fire Service until David Jenkins hired him. We all know where David Jenkins is now – FIRED. This fire chief last worked in Kansas – where he was FIRED. Before that he worked in Missouri – where he was FIRED. He tried to fire a fire captain that he later made a battalion chief. He had a employee drive around in the Angora Fire (that were not requested) and had a vehicle burned up – almost killed two fire personnel – He did nothing. Poor health, poor performance and poor leadership have led to a situation that finally resulted in a vote of employees concerned for firefighter safety, fiscal management and higher levels of community service request via a Vote of No Confidence. This under-educated man is challenged to apply for a new job – bet he can’t get it (means he is unqualified for his current post). If something is predicatble – it is preventable. Make it happen.

  26. Parker says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    First off, I’m not being sarcastic at all about the members of the SLTFD taking pride in their fitness & appearance. I know members of the Dept,. and they’ve expressed displeasure at the Chief for what they believe is a lack of fitness & appearance pride on the hiss part! I believe that’s playing a role in the no confidence vote!

    As far as my point, first of all, I’m happy in my job! I just get tired of government workers crying poor, and this is true at the State, Federal and right here at the local level! SLTFD cried poor a few years ago, saying they couldn’t retain people, even though there was a long line to join, not me, but a long line to join. I also made some observations, that included knowing firemen in our town, and knowing relatives of firemen, that led and leads me to believe that they aren’t exactly overworked. You disagree 23yr. local. Fine! You have your opinion, and I have mine!

    Anyway the SLTFD put enough of a scare in the public to get a sales tax increase passed in 04. It was and is wholly unjustified by the facts! It wasn’t a huge increase, but it comes out of my pocket and the pockets of hard working families in our community! And it’s thus less money circulating in our struggling private sector.

    So just like Steven commented, be prepared! Our City tried to slip in a tax increase in the last election. Next they’re going to try to cry poor and try to get another one passed. And I’m just one of the many that firmly believes that there is much more! belt tightening that can and needs to be done by the City, and that includes the SLTFD!

  27. Geeper says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Close Station 2, no medic unit there.

  28. lou pierini says - Posted: December 1, 2010

    Until the city of SLT files for chapter 7, or 11, bankruptcy, the system will not change. This is the only solution to the city of So. Lake Tahoes obligations to its workers, which are 10 times more than the mininum wage, on a per year basis, for their 200 plus full time people. 10x thats too much!

  29. lou pierini says - Posted: December 2, 2010

    The city or So. Lake Tahoe has to file for bankrupcy to get rid of unfunded obligations. There is no other way, unless they what the pain, to come down the road which they have done in the past.

  30. Parker says - Posted: December 2, 2010

    NorCal Fireman, I saw it on Nov. 1, 2004!! Firemen from all 3!!, that is three!! local Depts., (City, County & Douglas) showed up at a fire at a motel in the middle of town! It was just in one motel, and at least 30 firemen were there! When I asked, “Why are all these different depts. here?”, I was told by a former fireman and member of the SLTPD, “Well if they’re not doing anything better they like to show up to see what’s going on!”

    And Citizens for a new Fire Chief-the resume of the Fire Chief sounds a lot like Dave Jinkens! Has been fired at many of his previous jobs! But Dave Jinkens had one requirement to be hired, be his ‘Yes Man”. That’s what made Gigliotti qualified to be Fire Chief in So. Lake Tahoe!

  31. 10yearlocal says - Posted: December 2, 2010

    Just a few facts about the fire chief:

    1.the fire chief is 45 with no masters degress as he stated on his job application – a fire-able offence.

    2. he was seen out of the county on a personal errand in his city vehicle – against his own policy.

    3. He recently bought a lap top type computer, new phone and new vehicle – while most city employees are still geting furloughed at not just two days per month but now 3 days per month.

    4. He sits in meetings texting people during the whole meeting – watch him, he never looks up and doesn’t know what goes on in the meetings.

    5. his leadership is non-existant. He is either texting, going to training in So. Cal. or working on his masters degree that he says he already has.


    1. Why did the fire dept retire a vehicle due to emmission standards but require firemen to sign a waiver to drive it? not complying with CA emmission standards poisoning our guys? I don’t think so.

    2. Why didn’t the city manager take action when he met with the union and attorneys? That was an ‘official’ notice not a few grumblings.

  32. Careaboutthecommunity says - Posted: December 2, 2010

    The gap is wide between the haves and the have-nots. This is what this story seems to bring out.

  33. Steve says - Posted: December 2, 2010

    It appears once again that we have too many overpaid, overperked, and overpensioned bureaucrats running around, with too much idle time on their hands, bumping into each other, with too much money to throw around, performing poorly and wasting taxpayers’ money. The status quo is financially unsustainable with one costly debacle after another. Besides the bureaucrats, the only ones benefiting are the attorneys that have to be hired to clean up the messes that have been created.

    End the duplicity and wasteful spending. Declare bankruptcy, dissolve the city and turn over to county control. There is no reason for so many multiple, overlapping, and inefficient management positions that result in the city’s higher taxes and fees.

  34. longtime local dude says - Posted: December 2, 2010

    Steve, I like your thought… Turn the City over to the County… Not sure how that would work, but it sounds cool… After 23 yr locals correction of my ignorance I will reframe my misinformed thoughts (and “NO” I don’t want to research this topic). Being a firefighter I would be stoked to make 60K+ / year, have fat Cal PERS retirement, work a couple 24 hour shifts per week, have a fat new house I constructed in my spare time, a fairly new 1 ton diesel truck, multiple kids and awesome insurance, all to be fully retired at full pay / benies by 55. A post doctoral researcher makes about as much as a firefighter… There is no 4 yr college degree required. I would hope they were buff and in serious shape as the image of a firefighter is crucial and the Chinese phonebook on Lorenzo does not resemble a model fire fighter (although I like the guy). So, I like my ignorance, its just fun watching all you get riled in justifying your existence…

  35. farkworth says - Posted: December 2, 2010

    “Department answers over 3000 emergency calls a year? Let’s see 3000 calls divided by 365 days = over 8 per day! Not when I lived there.

  36. 40yearlocal says - Posted: December 2, 2010

    I did a little research for 23yr guy.
    Yes there are firefighters that make over 100k per year. Take the high base pay which you stated. Add in the education pay, the percentage over rank for paramedic and all the other pay incentives and you are probably around 90k. The real payoff is out of town assignments “AKA Striketeams” are when the firefighter makes out. Somewhere between $30 to $50 which is at time and 1/2. A regular assignment on an active fire will last 1 week. OK now we are around 95k. Even if you don’t go out of town there is always station backfill @ time & 1/2. It’s alot of extra work and they work for there money if it is a active fire season. I personally know 3 local guys that made 100k +.
    It is true that the majority of Fire Departments have 3 man engines. You failed to state the reason you only have 2. After some research using some retirees from SLTFD for info I found out that the 3rd firefighter moved over to drive an ambulance when the city took over the ambulance service. I was told that the sales pitch was “were not loosing a firefighter because the ambulance usually runs with the Fire Engine on calls “. Now this is true except when your ambulance isn’t on another call.
    And also 23yrguy someone posted the fact that firefighter only live 7 to 9 years past retirement. It took me 1 google and it hit on the Calpers website. They claim it is a long standing myth and male firefighter live till 81 and females to 82.
    You were right. I should have the facts straight. But you should also know the history of why things are the way they are.

  37. Tahoe Freedom Fighter says - Posted: December 2, 2010

    I want to know how come we are paying for 6 or 7 firefighters and 2 engines for at least two days to block traffic and put up Christmas lights on a tree on private property (Factory Stores @ the “Y”). Two firefighters, one on the ladder and one in the bucket, while 5 or 6 stand around and BS.
    They refuse to do something useful like removing the snow around fire hydrants, but jump at the chance to get paid for doing nothing.

    Are they putting up Christmas lights for any business? Are the lights decorating the Factory outlets the Citys or the Factory outlets? If they wanted a tall tree at the “Y”, why not use one of the tall pines at the Transit Stop?

    Lets remember this the next time they trot out the old saw “Vote for this assessment or increase of fees as our services are in danger of cut backs”.
    CUT ‘EM BACK!!!!!

  38. Geeper says - Posted: December 2, 2010

    If you don’t like your boss either Quit or out last him.

  39. 30yearlocal says - Posted: December 3, 2010

    Citizens: how do you know about all these “firings?” Such a final word so please know facts before stating in public.

    David Jinkins wasn’t fired as we all know. So it puts some lack of belief in your posting.

    I am just surprised why a Fire Chief job can’t be treated like all other jobs when staff have problems with leadership. You work it out for the best conclusion for everyone…all things stated here can be worked on, if valid.

    Let’s play nice in the sandbox for the good of our town.

  40. pt says - Posted: December 3, 2010

    Tahoe Freedom Fighter
    REALLY? You are an idiot, short of that i am speachless. I thought it was cool to see the city finally decorate. My kids were stoked when we drove by as was I! Sure glad you weren’t part of that process Mr.Scrooge!

  41. fireguru says - Posted: December 3, 2010

    To me it is apparant there are 2 distinct sides to this issue, those that support Lorenzo and those who dont, I have had 30 years of experience in the fire service and what I know is a fire Chief’s Job is two fold. Provide a mission statemant to the taxpayers for professional fire protection and EMS services and second to provide leadership to his crews to motivate them to risk life and limb to attain the mission statement. Once the questioning of his leadership quality begins the mission statement goes out the door. A fire chief should never ask his troops to do something he could not do himself. Look at this man ,is he phisically fit to do the job? Or is ihe just another political apointee? The city manager should ask himself some poiniant questions or else his job may be in jepordy. Is lorenzo providing the leadership required od a public safety official? any comments Lorenzo? where are you on this issue?

  42. fireguru says - Posted: December 4, 2010

    Remember people can question operational decesions like what vehicles to buy, but the true question is he a competent fire chief who motvates his troops to follow the mission statement of the department. In local city government the mayor and city manager have to determine if he is doing the job he was hired for. During the Angora fire SLT firefighters were very frustrated watchlng Reno and north lake tahoe fire units going by thier stations while they had to stay put. I wonder is that good for the community? Lorenzo should not stay silent about this issue. Truckee Fire just went through a similar situation and they terminated chief Keller. Leadership is responding and defending your actions

  43. Public Safety Friend says - Posted: December 6, 2010

    Police and Fire agencies are insurance policies for the public. You hope you never need one but when you do need them you pray that you paid your premium.
    Tahoe Freedom Fighter, 40 year local, and Parker all make good observations. Yes the two departments should be one. Yes there are times when police and fire are idle (when the tourists AREN’T here) and yes there are some perks. But even though 40 year local did some research he’s wrong. My best friend is a senior Capt at SLTFD (not the senior but he is senior) He worked a decent amount of over time and he has all the education incentives that you speak of and is “top step” in his rank…and yet GASP! he will make just less than $100K. I’ve seen his latest paystub. The Firefighters are two ranks below him. In order for them to earn that kind of money they would have to go out of county on strike team assignment from June 1st until the end of September. Oh and there were no strike team assignments this year thankfully.

    FACT: The total adjusted GROSS pay of the City’s top step Firefighter/paramedic this year will be in the $70K range after a decent amount of OT.

    Top step Captain wage is $27.50/hr and that comes after a 15 year “longevity step” There is one Captain and 2 Chiefs who have 15 years in. Top step for Captain (highest rank before becoming a Division Chief at SLTFD) is $25.92/hr) At that rate you would have to work 3848 hrs in a year to reach $100K (without OT) The Firefighter work week is 56 hrs X 52 weeks = 2912 hrs. So divide out time and a half (ot) and you would have to work 624 ADDITIONAL OT hours or 26 extra shifts. The average in the dept is less than 10 OT shifts per year per person. YOUR MATH IS WRONG 40 YEAR MORON!!!! a few top step Captains and the Chiefs clear $100K and that’s ALL!!!!

    FACT: of the 34 guys on the job below the rank of Chief…. 15 of them rent their homes. 19 own.

    FACT: there is ONE guy who built his own house. Two who have done remodels. The rest of them struggle with laying tile just like everyone else.

    FACT: the firefighter was taken off the engine in 2001 (when Lake Valley and the City took over the Ambulance) to drive the ambulance and is still considered part of the “engine company”. Other departments use a full engine company with a fully staffed medic in the station. SLTFD is down ONE FF on each engine despite the City stating that they are trying to get back to staffing 3 on the Eng…. Kind of like how the PD ends up with 1 or 2 officers on the street at times due to their staffing problems….

    FACT: (for parker) the fire on November 1st 2004. There was no fire (public record) on November 1st 2004 of ANY kind reported. For the sake of argument though lets say you were a little dislexic with the dates. The fire was at a MOTEL. The First Alarm Assignment in Sacramento for ANY fire in a commercial occupancy (Motel 6) is 2 ladder trucks, 4 engines, 2 medics and a chief officer which, when staffed the way Sac City does puts 30 people on scene. Thats more than Lake Valley and City combined if they sent everything they have. With the daily staffing in Tahoe SLTFD couldn’t put 30 firefighters on scene without calling 4 additional fire depts. Don’t pretend to understand Fire Operations if you aren’t in the business. I would say a false alarm response to a motel with 3 agencies was the proper use of automatic aid when the agencies are responding with 2 people on the rigs. Oh yeah and Sac City Fire routinely runs with 4 on the Engine per national standards.

    The point here isn’t whether or not the Firefighters in Tahoe are understaffed, over or under paid or if you just don’t like them because they have a decent standard of living and good grooming standards. The point is whether or not their Chief is a leader. Fireguru said it best when he questioned why the Chief hasn’t defended himself. In a time of transparency when payscale and government actions are all printed and out there for public comment I would think that the Fire Chief/Police Chief/City Manager etc ought to have their resume, and accomplishments out on the table for review by anyone. Parker should be able to tell his friends where Lorenzo first became a firefighter and what school he went to for his paramedic licence. 40 year local should know why the Fire Chief was qualified in South Lake Tahoe for the position but not qualified in Kansas or Misouri if he was indeed, fired from those posts. He has verbalized his accomplishments more times than his firefighters can count but they’ve never seen ANYTHING on paper. Hmmmmm. Was he one of the first lifeflight paramedics? Did he actually get shot during his paramedic internship? Was he even ever licensed as a paramedic? How much time as a paid firefighter, engineer, captain did he have before he became a fire chief. There are LITERALLY scores of similar ‘tall tales’ that he has relayed to his guys which have never been proven. Why did he leave those jobs in the midwest? Is it true that when the City hired him he was a “consultant”, no longer working for a municipal fire department? His guys seem intimidated to ask questions like that to his face because of real or percieved retaliation in the past. Is that a good leader?

    And how about that City Manager? In he was quoted as saying that he only heard “rumblings” of a vote of no confidence but in the Tribune he states that Council had a closed session with this as an agenda item. WTF???? I think the City Manager got caught trying to sweep this under the rug in hopes that he could work something out with the Union President before it ever became public. How does it go from “grumblings” to a Council meeting “agenda-item” in “closed session”? Hmmmmm

    I say we quit the back and forth about the life and times of american firefighters and get back to the issue at hand. The Firefighters have a Chief that they don’t trust and in some cases believe he is a compulsive liar. How do you follow an order into a burning building or at a horrible accident scene from a guy whose morals, qualifications, and abilities you question??????

    Sounds like leadership isn’t just lacking in the FD. Glad the cops got a new leader. I just hope he succeeds where these guys have failed.

    Ask the neighboring departments and theirr Chiefs how much of a “partner” he has been. Has Lorenzo built bridges or created more of a divide? Would Lake Valley’s Fire Chief care to comment? His guys seem to like him fine. They have disagreements just like any other organization but they are able to work through them. Not so at SLTFD.

  44. locals unite says - Posted: December 6, 2010

    Fact, for every dollar a public safety officer earns, it costs us taxpayers about 1.50, as long as we’re getting our facts straight.

    Fact, when you quote firefighter’s hourly rate you forgot to say they get paid for 3,000 hours a year, a 1,000 more than the average worker. On top of that, there are a bunch of extra salary benefits you get you didn’t mention.

    If you want to know exactly what they earned check out the actual salaries of all city workers, and to see who earns the most, click on the 2009 wages column that sorts it by highest salaries.

    Fire and police are top earners above most everyone else so long as we’re talking facts.

    Firefighters earn that pay , and many are over $100,000 by working about 9 days a month, plus a few other days, maybe some work even 15 days a month to earn that. Of those days, they can sleep at the station of course we want our firefighters rested. They can also go to school online, on duty. They can wash their own cars, play games work out and it’s a good job. That’s a fact. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be 400 applicants for every job opening. I’d rather they be working the whole time we are paying them to be at the station.

    I expect those on the public payroll to stop whining and start doing their jobs. How many of us don’t like our boss, don’t get the benefits you get and don’t have the guarantees you have. If we don’t like our boss, we quit. If we don’t do a good job, we get fired. If we cost our employer money we lose our job.

    And we make about 1/3 what you make. Get it together, stop whining and start being grateful for your very well compensated work.

    Most in this town who you work for if you forget that, have lost half our pay ,we’ve lost just about everything in this economy and tell me exactly what have you lost? When the 2010 salaries are posted next year on that site, I bet the facts will show, you didn’t lose much if anything. Time to balance the fairness in pay here. You should get paid for how well you do your job, not just that you have one.

  45. Steve says - Posted: December 6, 2010

    The facts from the CA State Controller’s website appear to contradict some of the wage numbers being thrown around here for the SLT Fire Department.

    According to the public data for the City of South Lake Tahoe, the total calendar year 2009 wages (Box 5 of the W-2) exceeded $100,000 for each of the four Division Chiefs; one made $151,486.

    During the same year, five of the 9 Fire Captains made more than $100,000, with 3 of these exceeding $150,000 and 2 exceeding $190,000.

    These numbers sound so high that they are practically unbelievable. One can only wonder, what is going on with the overtime? I don’t recall any large memorable fires in 2009 that appear to have warranted such largesse.

  46. Parker says - Posted: December 6, 2010

    Public Safety Friend, yes you’re correct in that my date was incorrect! It was Nov. 1, 2003. Sorry, I was a year off. I don’t have access to all the Fire Dept.’s records like you clearly do!

    If you want further info., it was the Nickelodean Motel across from the Amusement Park. I don’t know fire operations and I don’t know or care what they do in Sac! I do know the site of people standing around from all 3 depts.! I saw it there and then on 11/1/03, and thought what a waste!!

  47. Careaboutthecommunity says - Posted: December 6, 2010

    Does anyone know how much a ski patroller makes at Heavenly a year? And what kind of education is required to do the job?

  48. Paul Middlebrook says - Posted: December 6, 2010

    40 year resident says that a post doctoral researcher makes about the same as a firefighter. Call a person with a Doctorate in political science the next time your child is choking on something, or you are having a heart attack or your house is burning to the ground….let us know how that works out for you.

  49. 30yearlocal says - Posted: December 6, 2010

    So many people posting here make it seem like a bed of roses when being a firefighter. They get paid well but I don’t see them standing around. Have you ever stopped by and talked to them, or found out what their typical day is like? Have you ever conducted your work day activities, never knowing when you’ll be called out on an emergency of unknown nature, driving at high rates of speed to save someone or a house, only to be behind a driver without a clue that flashing red lights are behind them?

    I appreciate what our firefighters do. If you all think its so cush, go for it…there are openings coming up in our area in the next couple of years (time to go to school and get in shape).

  50. thankfulguy says - Posted: December 8, 2010

    My goodness after reading everything I have to say there are a lot of opinions about public safety. Its been my experience that when times are bad ALL government jobs are under the gun. When times are good no one actually cares. I do know that if you ever need someone from your public safety departments you will be glad that they are there. We all have to remember that we don’t pay these people for what they do, we pay them for what they can do and hope we never need them. Instead of getting information from former or current firefighter maybe you should talk to people who have called 911 for help. I am sure most of those people would disagree with all the negativity towards the fire department.

  51. Sick-Of-It says - Posted: December 13, 2010

    Really? Firefighters and police are like having AAA insurance and/or air ambulance membership. Paying for those services should be a given and hopefully you’ll never have the unfortunate, ugly, life-chaging experience of having to need the service, BUT if you do they’re always there and NEVER ask “why did you do that” or “how stupid are you” or “what the hell were you thinking”. Shut up and get on with your lives. Worry about really important stuff. Happy Holiday’s

  52. fireguru says - Posted: December 20, 2010

    It seems this all started with the subject of a vote of no confidence in the fire chief. It has gotten way off topic. Is there confidence in the fire chief or not? We are not talking about any thing else but the fire chief. I believe the firefighters do not trust him to do the job he was hired to do.
    And if that is the case then neither do I

  53. Sick-Of-It says - Posted: December 20, 2010

    Then “off with his head”. and get rid of him.

  54. Parker says - Posted: December 20, 2010

    Good point fireguru! But the dialogue created can be thought provoking and ‘MAY’, perhaps move the community forward???

    Even those that disagreed with some comments I posted, stated that they agreed that the two Fire Depts. should be consolidated!

    So plain & simple, I say if for no other reason than that the Fire Chief is clearly not in shape, as all fire personnel should be, he should be removed! And his removal should begin the process of consolidating the South Lake Tahoe and Lake Valley Fire Depts!!