Nearly three months after threatening to walk off the job over disagreements with town leaders over the fire department’s management, Rockport’s volunteer firefighters say the town is now targeting them with an unnecessary audit.
The latest dust-up between the fire department and town hall, which is across the street from the fire station, comes as its chief, James Doyle, remains on paid leave, something that could end as early as Tuesday during his termination hearing.
“Now, they’re going to tell us they’re doing on audit on our department,” said Capt. Frank Favaloro. “We don’t feel we need an audit. We know what the problems were. We know what our problems are. If anything needs to be audited, it’s across the street.”
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In a statement released by his attorney, Doyle said, in part: “Volunteering as a Rockport fireman has been a huge part of my entire life. I never imagined my time as a volunteer would be cut short. All I want is to return to my second family....”
In November, the volunteer firefighters called for the town’s director of emergency services, Mark Schmink, to be removed. They claimed that morale plummeted under his leadership.
Schmink had been overseeing the fire department, but wasn’t a firefighter. Shortly afterward, his position was eliminated, but he continues to serve as an assistant police chief.
Neither the town administrator, Mitchell Vieira, nor the Board of Selectmen could be reached for comment Sunday night.