Fire captain's double duty concerns some - but not in Raleigh
Posted October 23, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — A longtime captain for the Raleigh Fire Department is being scrutinized by some for a second job he holds as the chief firefighter for the city of Claremont – a Catawba County community of about 1,400 people.
Volunteer firefighters with the Claremont Fire Department, near Hickory, have complained that Raleigh Capt. Bart Travis has neglected his duties as chief of that operation – a position he's held since October 2013 and that pays $56,000 annually.
The Claremont City Council met Thursday afternoon for a specially called meeting about Travis and the fire department but quickly ended the meeting once it became apparent that the matter was a personnel issue that could not be addressed in a public forum.
City Manager Doug Barrick said that the city has never received a formal complaint about Travis and that council members advised that formal grievances needed to be filed before they could take up the matter.
He didn't know about the specific complaints lodged against Travis.
"He's very ethical and leads a very progressive and well-managed department," Barrick said.
The concerns, instead, were taken to the Claremont Fire Department Risk Assessment and Membership Committee, he added. It's the same committee that hired Travis last year and knew that he intended to hold two jobs.
"The issue of him working for the City of Raleigh and for the City of Claremont was made known to that committee before he was employed here with the city," Barrick said Thursday.
Committee Chairman Michael Hathaway says he's received about a dozen complaints over the past three months regarding administration, leadership and other concerns, but he wouldn't provide specifics.
Nearly 170 miles away, Travis' double duty isn't an issue in the Capital City, Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath says.
Many of the city's 600 firefighters hold a second job, he says, and doing so is acceptable as long as it is reputable and doesn't interfere with their duties with the city.
Travis – captain of Engine 25, which serves the northern borders of the city – has never had anyone complain about his ability to do his job, McGrath said, and has never had any unexplained or excessive absences.
His annual salary in Raleigh is nearly $63,000.
"(Travis) has an excellent work record. He's an excellent employee. He has been an employee of the Raleigh Fire Department since 1998 and, as far as the City of Raleigh and the Raleigh Fire Department are concerned, he is in compliance with all of our rules and regulations," McGrath said.
Calls to Travis weren't returned Thursday, but he told the Hickory Daily Record that he had not been aware of the concerns about his job performance and thought he was doing a good job balancing both.
"It's tough. It takes good time management," he told the newspaper.