Entries Tagged 'SFFD' ↓

Does the city need to step up their game in recognizing mental illness in their employees?

After reading Patrick Warren’s story in the Argus this weekend, I got the feeling that the city is making excuses or in denial about how they treat their employees with mental illness. It seems if someone’s behavior is interrupting city business, instead of trying to determine what is going on, they fire the person.

Patrick contacted me several months ago about his story, and after talking to him for over 2 1/2 hours, I decided to pass his story on to John Hult, I felt John would do a better job of telling the story. And I am impressed.

There are some things missing from the story, that eventually I would love to delve into, a lot of it stems from some of the actions of the current police chief and his relationship with the union president for the firefighters.

Patricks’s story about recognizing mental illness in employees is just the tip of the iceberg of what is going on behind the scenes at the Fire Department.

Double Standard w/Ambulance service?

As we all may or may not know, ambulance service for the city of Sioux Falls is provided by Paramedics Plus (including non-emergency transfers) and county service is provided by Med-Star. Which is fine, because having two companies providing service in the area is good for a back up plan in case of a major natural disaster, or other instances.

I was told on Friday (still checking to verify information)  that if Med-Star (the county provider) can’t provide immediate service in their service area, Paramedics Plus can assist.

But what is confusing is why can’t Med-Star be allowed to assist Paramedics Plus in the city limits if they need assistance? Or can they?

Apparently either the Pony Express or Shopping News carriers are delivering code enforcement notices


Mayor Huether seems to be confused tonight at the council meeting about how to stack a pile of firewood

Minnehaha County treasurer Pam Nelson showed up tonight to explain to the city how to mail out proper notice in the mail for a code violation (you know, using a postman and a stamp and not a newspaper bag). Pam got a notice about her firewood stack, but instead of sending a letter to her office or ACTUAL home, they put a letter in a plastic newspaper bag and hung it to her secondary residence. Seems efficient.


Then Bob Kolbe showed up asking how private emergency for-profit services can be cheaper then city owned services. Well, Bob, have you seen the Fire Department salaries (DOC: 2015-Wages-January, Start on page 4)

What about ‘Mental’ evaluations?

While the city does physical evaluations of our firefighters, you wonder if there is any ‘mental’ evaluations? (Item #1)


I have been told “Fitness assessments” listed are part of the firefighter’s labor agreement where they are required to annually participate in a non-punitive assessment of their fitness. It includes tests like body fat measuring, BMI, push-ups, and cardiovascular fitness, etc. This was in place before the annual incumbent physical agility test (IPAT) was being used, so it seems unneeded (the IPAT annually shows the employee’s ability to perform essential job tasks) except it mentions behavioral health and then mental health on the program link, which IPAT doesn’t cover.

An overview of the program can be found here:


There’s only been one scientific study done nationally (by Chicago Fire) and their results showed that the suicide rates for firefighters are 5x the national average.

Still a mystery why former SF Firefighter was hacking emails?

So was anyone at this sentencing or have access to a transcript?

A former Sioux Falls city fire official won’t serve jail time for unlawfully accessing the fire chief’s email account.

A judge on Monday sentenced Patrick Warren to three years of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service.

He pleaded guilty in December to unlawful use of a computer and in exchange, prosecutors dropped 14 other counts against the former division chief.

Warren looked at Fire Chief Jim Sideras’ email account and saw confidential messages between Sideras and Sioux Falls Police Chief Doug Barthel.

Still curious why he was doing this and if he acted alone. Seems shady.

Interesting ‘Plea Deal’ concerning SFFD

When I first blogged about this there was no real information about ‘WHY’ he was hacking the computers.

And it seems with this ‘Plea Deal’ we may never know why. Does it have to do with the Unions? Does it have to do with performance evaluations? Was Mr. Warren working alone? It will be interesting to read the transcripts and why 14 of the 15 charges were dropped in the plea deal.

Curiosity Killed the Cat?

I find this story very intriguing;

A former Sioux Falls firefighter is facing serious felony charges.

47-year-old Patrick Warren, who was a division fire chief, has been indicted on 15 counts of hacking into the department’s computer system.  At this time, authorities aren’t sure what his intent was, but we do know Warren is no longer working for the department.

I have NO CLUE why he would want to look at the files, but I highly doubt it had to do with just curiosity. There is a bigger reason. Why would a Division Chief making $104K a year awaiting a great pension risk his job by doing this if he wasn’t ‘suspicious’ about something. Or could he have been doing someone elses dirty work.

I noticed in an early article he resigned in May or August(?). Funny how this just surfaced a few days ago.

It will be fun to watch this unfold, I especially want to know what the picture of ‘sucking up’ was.

Keep your fire hydrants clear of snow


A friend recently sent me the above picture. Apparently some people in his neighborhood think it is okay to bury the fire hydrant. Not only does it endanger their own property, it endangers other people on the block.

It’s not like Sioux Falls has not tried to get people to clear their hydrants much less get people to NOT bury them. What is the financial, criminal or civil penalty for this stupidity other than death or loss of property? While I am not big on turning your neighbor in for code violations, if you do see someone burying the fire hydrant, please report the incident to the SFFD or talk to your neighbor about it.

Here are several stories about consequences;

City of Sioux Falls Code Enforcement – Snow Removal – Fire Hydrant

Buried Fire Hydrants Can Be ‘Life and Death’ Situation

Clearing Snow From Fire Hydrants

Garage Fire Carries Reminder to Clear Hydrants

Fire Rescue asks you to keep hydrants clear

UPDATED: The hypocritical employment policies of city hall

I said I would remain quiet on this topic until it played out in court. Well the ruling is in, and so is DL’s opinion on the matter;

Sioux Falls Assistant City Attorney Keith Allenstein has pleaded guilty to drunken driving, Attorney General Marty Jackley announced Wednesday.

City Attorney Dave Pfeifle said Allenstein will continue serving in his current position as legal adviser to both the Sioux Falls police and fire departments.

“Both chiefs in those departments have expressed the utmost confidence in his ability to perform his job,” Pfeifle said.

Do I think Allenstein should lose his job over the conviction? Probably not, not to mention, I am also not his manager, so if the conviction doesn’t impede on his job performance I see no reason to cut him loose. BUT, I will say this, it’s not like Keith is the chief goose crap bike trail scraper for the Parks & Rec department, he is a city attorney whose position with that office is to advise the SFPD and FD. I am uncomfortable with him advising law enforcement on any issue if he can’t even abide by traffic laws himself. I think his position should be changed and a demotion should be considered.

All that being said, what frustrates me the most about this case is the blatant hypocrisy of this administration, especially towards women.

City Clerk Debra Owen was fired over (allegedly) an employee conflict issue. She had to be replaced by three people.

Head Librarian Sally Felix was fired (asked to retire) because of her disagreements with her boss.

We also must look at another city attorney who was (allegedly) fired because he (allegedly) got caught fixing a ticket for one of his children. Not a minor offense, and definitely something worth being terminated over.

So you ask yourself, if the city attorney who advises the PD and FD can plead guilty to DUI and not have any repercussions, what is the BAR for a terminating offense with Huether? I guess it is OK to drive drunk, just don’t disagree with your boss.

Is dual use of city departments a good idea?

I’m just throwing the idea out there, but could we use firefighters to help in tree trimming around the city? I just watched this video of the new green truck the fire department has purchased. It seems the truck is perfectly outfitted for things like simple tree trimming.

And I am not saying the FD needs to ditch their regular duties, but could the truck be used to help trim trees for the elderly or for people who don’t have the means to do it themselves?

I think it would be easy for them to go around and check trees (and fire hydrants) in their districts and not be negligent in providing safety to the residents. These trucks are fully equipped with the lastest technology to respond to a fire quickly. And if they are out in their districts they may even be able to respond quicker.

I have always felt the biggest problem with municipal employees is that they are usually not required to multi-task unless they are a grunt in the hole for public works. Remember the termination of Debra Owen? She wore many hats, and for that she was a significant asset and value to the city. Heck, they had to replace her with 3 employees and a couple of committees.

Just a thought.