Members of a Fairfax County fire-fighters union said yesterday they have voted no confidence in the country's director of fire and rescue services, accusing him of failing to coordinate services in the department.
Two-thirds of the members of Local 2068 of the International Association of Firefighters, responding to questions on Director George H. Alexander's role, disapproved of his actions, union spokesmen said.
Specifically, members of the union, which claims to represent 667 of the county's 710 fulltime firefighters, hold Alexander responsible for low morale in the force, said Glenn Benarick, union spokesman. He said union members believe there is a lack of uniform procedures in the department and that Fairfax's 28 fire stations "act as separte entities as a result."
Although Virginia court rulings prohibit localities from having collective bargaining agreements with labor unions, there is no ban on government workers belonging to labor groups, such as the firefighters' union.
Fairfax County is served by fulltime and volunteer firefighters. None of the county's 250 volunteer firefighters were eligible to participate in the union vote.
Alexander, who is the equivalent of the county's fire chief, was reported out of the state yesterday and could not be reached for comment on the vote. Deputy Fire Chief Alfred Savia called the vote "news to me," and expressed disinterest in it.
Fairfax County Supervisor Joseph Alexander (D-Lee), no relation to Director George Alexander, called the vote "strange and unusual." Joseph Alexander, chairman of the supervisors' committee of fire and rescue services, said the action was "also premature."
"They haven't talked to us about it at all," he said. "I don't think this is the way to do it."
Supervisor John P. Shacochis (R-Dranesville), another member of the fire committee, said he, too, was surprised by the union complaint. "I'm at a loss to know what they're complaining about," he said.
Acting County Executive J. Hamilton Lambert said yesterday that the subcommittee chaired by Joseph Alexander was created to prevent such charges. Until now, "it appeared that the communication channels were open and working", Lambert said.
A union leader met with Lambert yesterday and "never mentioned the letter" condemming Alexander, Lambert said.