Members of the Newton Fire Department International Association of Firefightes Local 1457 recently filed a vote of no confidence in Newton Fire Chief Jarrod Wellik.
Tom Richmond, president of the Newton Local 1457, said he was not yet at liberty to speak about the union's specific concerns in regard to Wellik's leadership other than to say the "vote of no confidence speaks for itself."
"We stand united that we do not support the chief," Richmond said of the unprecedented action taken by Newton Fire Department personnel.
Though he would not get into specifics as to why the vote was taken, Richmond did say that the issues are not contract related. The union currently has more than two years left in its three-year agreement.
Richmond said the vote of no confidence was provided to all city council members, as well as top city administration. He said the City has acknowledged receipt of the vote of no confidence and is currently considering how to move the complaint process forward. He said he hoped that at some time in the future, specifics about the complaints will be able to be brought forward.
"We'll do it in the proper arena," Richmond said.
Newton City Adminstrator Bob Knabel confirmed that the City received a letter of no confidence from the local firefighters' union late last week. He said the City is currently exploring the processes and procedures required of such a filing, as well as what steps to take next.
Richmond, who is in his 21st year on the Newton Fire Department force and has worked under four different Newton chiefs, assured Newton residents that the vote of no confidence will in no way impact the high-quality of service local firefighters have always provided to citizens of the community.
"We will continue to respond to emergencies with professionalism and the same high level of expertise," he said.
Wellik was hired as Newton Fire Chief in early 2011. He was previously assistant chief and chief of the volunteer Stewartville, Minn., fire department. The position came open after the Newton City Council allowed former chief Ed Clements to downgrade to a battalion chief position until his retirement.