GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Amid a $30,000 city-prompted assessment into Greenville Fire/Rescue, multiple former employees reached out to 9 On Your Side to share their experiences with the department.
Four of those who reached out sat down with our Brandon Truitt to discuss why each walked away from their jobs at Greenville Fire/Rescue.
Eddie Meeks, Dustin Peaden, Matt McMahon, and Jeremy Seemann worked at GFR between two and 29 years.
Each of the men claimed to have witnessed multiple instances where employees were overworked and under-resourced for calls.
McMahon worked as a paramedic supervisor with the department. He said, “The reason why we are even speaking about this now is because many of us have put many years into the agency. We love the city of Greenville we love what we do but we are heartbroken about what the agency has become.” When asked to clarify what he meant by pointing out a change in the department McMahon said, “ All of the high performers and experienced personnel are either retiring early they are moving on, in many cases, they are taking large pay cuts to work at other places”
Each worked for Greenville Fire/Rescue between two and 29 years and all say they left the department on their own.
Each expressed concern internal issues could be putting public safety at risk.
We spoke at length about their claims against the department and its senior-level administration.
The former first responders claim employees are overworked and not always equipped with enough resources. They claim that is ultimately contributing to higher turnover.
Meeks said, “To put it in perspective you lost 30 plus people last year. In January you hired 25 new recruits to go through the process. You are already 5 people down.”
“It is not uncommon to see paramedic chase vehicles,” McMahon added. “The problem now is that there are so few paramedics that the ones running on the calls are being beaten down a lot are working 24-hour shifts without adequate rest.”
McMahon said, “If the city knew how much money they were losing on letting personnel just walk out the door with no concern. It’s very disheartening.” McMahon stated it was money being invested in training for employees. McMahon added, “I would estimate in all the training we go through there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars that are just being wasted and other departments are benefiting from.”
When asked if they were surprised by the city prompted assessment each of the men replied, “No.”
McMahon said, “I wasn’t surprised. I was relieved in a way because many of us have met with the city manager and gave our recommendations the city could do to help fix the problem and recommendations we had.”
The city says the assessment is designed to look at how GFR is organized, not personnel issues.
However, the proposal from Developmental Associates said their works aims to tackle both.
9 On Your Side reached out to the department as well as the city for a comment.
Both declined our request for an interview, but the city of Greenville’s public information officer Brock Letchworth did provide the following statement:
“While we appreciate you offering the opportunity for Fire/Rescue Chief Griffin to respond to the allegations of former employees, but we are going to decline this request. We would like to note, however, that the door of City Management is always open to any current or former employees who have allegations relating to any City department.”
The city added there have been recent studies that show the level of service that is being provided is at an exceptional level.
One of those was a study from 2017 by the North Carolina Office of Emergency Services. The study found similar allegations to be unfounded.