CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dozens of Charlotte firefighters gathered at the Government Center Monday night to show support for the fire department and its leaders.
A group of mostly women and minority firefighters addressed City Council to dispute anonymous letters circulating in the department and City Hall.
"This small group does not represent the members of this department," firefighter Betsy Bernard said.
Channel 9 has received several of the letters. One of them said that despite a change in leadership, the department is still riddled with unethical practices and unfair treatment of minorities.
The diverse group of firefighters who spoke at City Council Monday night claimed that is not the case.
"While you might have heard that there are problems and some people might think the problems are significant, in my eyes and my experience, that could not be further from the truth," firefighter Fernando Rojas said.
The controversy comes as City Manager Marcus Jones is trying to hire a new fire chief. The anonymous letter calls on Jones to make an outside hire.
Former chief Jon Hannan retired last year amid complaints about intimidation and low morale. Sources told Channel 9 his job was in jeopardy.
Community Safety Chair and Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt said the city manager has been going from station to station to gauge morale and see what firefighters want out of the new chief.
"We have faith in our city manager that he is going to hire the right person to continue the great history of the Charlotte Fire Department," she said.
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