More than half of Annapolis' unionized firefighters are to be transferred to new platoons, stations or apparatus beginning with the new year in an effort to make the city Fire Department more efficient, Chief Edward P. Sherlock said yesterday.
Some firefighters are charging that the moves, which were posted Monday, are politically motivated. They said they feel the moves are meant as retribution because they opposed Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins' successful bid for re-election.
"The only people who got transferred were people who were involved in the campaigns," said Lt. Clarence Johnson, who is being moved from his post as the senior lieutenant in charge of two companies at the Taylor Avenue station to become a junior lieutenant at the Eastport station.
"This isn't to help the department," said another senior firefighter who asked not to be identified. "This isn't to train personnel or to help the public. It's pure vindictiveness."
"Certain people told us not to get involved, and now they are penalizing us for it."
Lt. John L. "Bo" Morgan, president of the union that represents the city's 70 professional firefighters, declined to comment. The union endorsed former Mayor Dennis M. Callahan, who lost to Mr. Hopkins last week.
Chief Sherlock denied that the moves were politically motivated or timed to follow the election.
About 45 employees are being transferred to show them "new territory, new faces, a new area," said Chief Sherlock, who took over as the city's top firefighter in 1987. "It's my job to put people in the positions that I think they will be the most efficient in. Some people had become stagnant, and in my professional opinion it was time to do this."
The moves were announced this week because the department is beginning to set its vacation schedules for next year and wanted to be able to plan around the transfers, the chief said.
Chief Sherlock said transfers traditionally are made in November for that reason. This year's is the largest mass transfer he can remember in his 35 years with the department, he said.
The transfers do not penalize the firefighters in any way, he said. Their hours remain the same, all are trained to operate the same apparatus, and no one was demoted, he said.
"If you are a lieutenant, you are still a lieutenant," Chief Sherlock said. "The only thing that might happen is you are moved from an engine to a [ladder] truck."
Firefighters, however, said the transfers do penalize them by breaking up the units with which they have trained for years.
"When you work on a shift for years at at time, you see your co-workers more than your wife and you become a family," said a firefighter who did not want to be identified. "What's happening here is like having 25 divorces all at once."