Vote of No Confidence, New Report Reveals 'Toxic Environment' In Baltimore County Fire Department


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BALTIMORE COUNTY - A dramatic vote of no confidence has shaken the Baltimore County Fire Department's senior leadership, shedding light on a series of internal issues described as a "toxic environment."

Fox-45 reports that a vote of no confidence, held in June, named several high-ranking officials, including Fire Chief Joanne Rund, Assistant Chief Jennifer Utz, Assistant Chief Paul Lurz, and Deputy Chief Francis DiPaula.

Chief Rund narrowly survived the vote, with 55% of the union expressing their confidence in her leadership. Assistant Chief Utz and Deputy Chief DiPaula faced overwhelming disapproval, with 91% and 79% of the union members, respectively, voting against them, Fox-45 reports.

Paul Lurz, one of the assistant chiefs named in the vote, has since retired, and his vote results were redacted from the report, according to the Baltimore Banner.

In addition to the vote, the union released a damning report detailing allegations of widespread issues within the department. Among the alarming allegations was a lack of respect, trust, and consistency between chief officers and members and inconsistent and sometimes personal disciplinary actions against members.

Union members claim the senior staff and administration's actions have led to "decreased morale, inferior performance, and negative attitudes," according to the Baltimore Banner. The report also voiced concerns over intimidation from management, bullying, harassment, and violations of standard operating procedures.

Further clouding the department's outlook is a 2021 report from FACETS Consulting, LLP, which outlined numerous operational inadequacies, including insufficient EMS response capacity and the need for additional resources and capital to maintain current services, according to an op-ed by White Marsh Cowenton Community Association president Heather Patti.

"Since being appointed, Chief Rund has focused on creating a culture of inclusiveness rather than addressing ANY of the operational issues; issues that put the citizens of Baltimore County (and the EMS/firefighters) safety in jeopardy," Patti wrote.

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