Reading firefighters union votes 'no confidence' in chief

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Published: Mar 11 2013 08:00:00 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 12 2013 06:48:58 AM EDT
David Hollinger - Reading Fire Department former chief
READING, Pa. -

Reading firefighters said they want the fire chief out.

Monday night the president of the firefighters' union went to city council and the mayor to tell them why.

The president of the union, Mike Shoumlisky, originally planned to air his case during the public council meeting, but was told he couldn't. So, instead he laid out his argument privately for why Fire Chief David Hollinger should go after less than a year.

"I respect their rules. They didn't want me speaking at council because I was directing my comments towards a specific individual. And their rule during executive session well I'll speak and I will not receive any questions," said Shoumlisky.

Shoumlisky said his members took a no confidence vote last week and everyone agreed their current fire chief David Hollinger is unfit.

"He could have been a great chief, if he would have just listened to them," said Shoumlisky.

The firefighters have several complaints that Shoumlisky laid out for council.

"They promised to look into any allegations that I brought up," said Shoumlisky.

Everything from belittling deputy chiefs to their concerns about what the chief wrote on an application to get $4 million in grant money from FEMA.

Shoumlisky's example of Hollinger's belittling happened during the Hill Road fire.

"Instead of questioning him or commending him for looking out for the safety of his men," said Shoumlisky, "He just merely called him 'Chicken Little' for pulling firefighters out of collapsing building."

Their major concern is the FEMA application which he photocopied and gave to council.

"They've been given copies of the SAFER application with the documentation and the highlighting of the areas that were lied about," said Shoumlisky, "There's some items in there where he stretched the truth and there are some items in there that are flat out lies. I don't want to be part of this and I don't want our members to be part of this type of fraudulence of lying to the federal government to receive federal grant money."

Chief Hollinger could not respond to the allegations because he is out of town this week.

"He knew it was coming but he just didn't know when we were going to drop the bomb," said Shoumlisky.

A representative from the fire department said the chief is unaware of the issue and has no comment until he can review it.

Council and the mayor said they can not comment about what happens during an executive session.

"If the city decides they want to seek another fire chief after seeing this evidence that's up to them," said Shoumlisky.