FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2020
A Joint Statement from the City Manager, Charlottesville Fire Department and the Charlottesville Professional Firefighters Association
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - On Tuesday, June 30, 2020, a meeting was held between the City Manager (Dr. Tarron Richardson), the President of the Charlottesville Professional Firefighters Association (Greg Wright, CPFFA), and Charlottesville Fire Department Chief (Emily Pelliccia). The purpose of this meeting was to follow up on the budget discussions and staffing needs identified by the Charlottesville Fire Department.
During this open and honest discussion about statements made during the budget process, Mr. Wright apologized to Dr. Richardson for saying that he was “willfully ignorant.” Dr. Richardson openly accepted his apology and explained why he responded in such a heated manner to his email, which Dr. Richardson felt was a racist comment.
Dr. Richardson reiterated his concern about the increasing overtime and committed to working together with the department and the association to address the staffing issues gradually over the next few fiscal years.
Dr. Richardson and Mr. Wright also discussed matters related to his promotion. Dr. Richardson and Mr. Wright discussed unfortunate and misleading headlines related to his promotion which appeared in the local newspaper. For example, the Thursday, June 25, 2020 print edition of The Daily Progress stated that “Richardson Withheld Promotion For Firefighter.”
Mr. Wright’s promotion was delayed because Dr. Richardson asked former Fire Chief Andrew Baxter to have Mr. Wright take a cultural diversity course in March, which never happened. Dr. Richardson also expressed to Mr. Wright that Chief Baxter told him there would be three promotions, but never mentioned them by name. He noticed that Mr. Wright was being promoted when approving personnel documents from the Human Resources Department. Before approving Mr. Wright’s promotion, Dr. Richardson inquired about Mr. Wright’s completion of the cultural diversity course. He was informed that Mr. Wright had not completed the course.
At the conclusion of the Tuesday, June 30, 2020 meeting, Dr. Richardson approved Mr. Wright’s promotion, effective retroactively to the original date of promotion on May 30th, to Captain and Mr. Wright agreed to take a cultural diversity course. Moving forward, the Fire Department and Dr. Richardson pledged to work in collaboration on developing a staffing plan that will help resolve the issues previously identified. This will include a gradual decrease in overtime from year-to-year, as well as an increase in additional advanced life support capabilities and emergency medical transport services.
Director of Communications
City of Charlottesville