Unwanted touching at Advance FD: County moves EMS crew

Published 9:51 am Thursday, February 3, 2022

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By Mike Barnhardt
Enterprise Record

Accusations of inappropriate actions – including unwanted physical touching – prompted Davie County to terminate its agreement to house an EMS unit at the Advance Fire Department.
The county and fire department were in agreement for the department on NC 801 to house an EMS unit for $1,000 a month.
In a letter to Fire Chief Rodney Miller on Jan. 21, County Manager David Bone terminated that agreement. A new letter of understanding was then reached so an EMS unit will be stationed at the old fire station on Fire Station Road from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. The county will pay for utilities at the new site.
Bone’s letter to Miller said, in part:
“It recently came to the county’s attention that there have been a number of incidents that have made Davie County EMS staff uncomfortable at Advance Fire Department. The reason for the termination of the agreement is multiple reports of unprofessional behavior witnessed by Davie County EMS staff by AFD personnnel and/or their guests,” including:
• “unwanted physical touching (to which you were made aware of and you simply told the county employee to ‘tell him to back off’;
• “production of alcohol (wine making) inside the fire station;
• “male and female visitors being allowed upstairs in staff bedrooms; and
• “loud behavior and late night noise (including someone banging on a pistol with a hammer, attempting to repair a handgun.”
Bone said the county is looking to a more permanent solution to housing an EMS unit in the county. The one assigned to Advance at night will now be based in Farmington.
Daniel Burke, fire department board chair, issued a statement after WXII 12 News first reported this story. The statement said:
“Advance Fire Department values its longstanding relationship with the County of Davie. We are pleased that we have been able to enter into a new agreement with the county that will ensure that an EMS unit will be located in Advance. This will provide sufficient coverage for our citizens and improve response times.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to protect the public safety of our citizens and businesses. We are very grateful for the support of our community as volunteers, attending our barbecues, on our board and in so many other ways.
“We want to make it clear that AFD is committed to the principles of fairness and equal employment opportunity. AFD will not condone, permit or tolerate any form of unlawful discrimination or harassment by or against our employees or volunteeers. AFD will investigate and will take prompt remedial action if timely, substantiated allegations of improper conduct are brought to its attention.
“We are focused on moving forward to continue to fulfill our mission of public safety. We will continue to work cooperatively and in partnership with the county to protect the health and safety of Davie citizens.
“This new agreement is a very positive step for our community. We very much appreciate the responsiveness of our Davie County commissioners and manager in listening to AFD’s concerns and facilitating this agreement. We look forward to working with the county to reach a long-term agreement that will advance public safety in our community.”
Bone said that incidents of improper work environments will not be tolerated.
“Davie County appreciates the contributions of its employees, and it is incumbent on the county to ensure a safe, positive work environment for all employees.”