Marion County Fire District No. 1

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Professional Firefighter Association of Marion County passed a vote of “no confidence” in Fire Chief J. Kevin Henson of Marion County Fire District No. 1.

“The decisions of the current administration are not conducive to positive change. Serious issues were worked through but change was not significant,” said Kris Boyer, president of International Association of Firefighters Local 2557. “We ask for trust in a leader and accountability of the Fire Board. We have “no confidence” in [Chief Henson].”

Members of the organization planned to picket the Willamette Valley Fire and Rescue Authority board meeting slated for Thursday, March 10, past press time.

The no confidence vote passed 29-3. Two members abstained from voting.

The vote was in part the result of a New Year’s Eve crash involving Henson as he responded to a commercial fire. Henson was cited for a traffic violation and reprimanded by the WVFRA board for his involvement in the incident.  Part of the controversy stems from a loaded gun being found in the car after the crash. WVFRA fire board officials had given Henson permission to carry the gun in his duty vehicle after he received threats and break-ins to his home in 2009.

The board rescinded permission to carry the weapon at the same time he was reprimanded.

“We believe that on Dec. 31, 2010, Chief Henson endangered the public by operating his emergency vehicle recklessly; endangered himself by not wearing his seatbelt; endangered everyone around him by carrying a handgun while on duty; and was untruthful to a police officer. This is the latest example of what we believe to be Chief Henson’s general lack of vision, skill, and steady leadership that is necessary,” Boyer said.

PFAMC firefighters will continue to perform their duties despite the no confidence vote, Boyer added.