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City fire union members vote no confidence in Chief Goodwin

The Baltimore Sun

The union that represents the city's firefighters cast a vote of no confidence in the fire chief last night, according to the union's secretary-treasurer.

The vote of no confidence in Chief William J. Goodwin Jr. came during a meeting of the members of Baltimore city Fire Fighters Local 734.

WJZ-13 television reported last night that the no-confidence vote came from about 50 of the union's 1,300 members.

Neither union President Rick Schluderberg nor Fire Department officials could be reached for comment last night. Bob Sledgeski, secretary-treasurer of the local, confirmed the vote. A spokesman for Mayor Sheila Dixon, who has expressed support for Goodwin, did not return a call seeking comment.

The no-confidence vote comes in the wake of a fire recruit's death and an internal investigation that found safety violations surrounding fire training, events that have caused morale among firefighters to plummet.

At a fire board meeting last month, a fire lieutenant called for Goodwin to resign.

Two days prior, an acting battalion chief was suspended without pay for his role in the Feb. 9 training fire, which killed recruit Racheal M. Wilson. In total, three commanders were suspended and the academy chief was fired, as a result of Wilson's death during the training exercise, which an internal investigation showed was in violation of 36 safety regulations.

Later last month, the Fire Department announced a reorganization of midlevel management, moving its 18 battalion chiefs to command new sections of the city. Fire officials characterized the changes as a way to create a more safety-conscious culture in the department.

The shuffle brought criticism from union leaders, who said the changes would create confusion and undermine morale.

Sun reporter Annie Linskey contributed to this article.

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