How to officially commend or complain about the performance
of a South Portland Fire Department employee
As a means of maintaining both department performance and community relations, the South Portland Fire Department encourages citizen recommendations for fire department personnel who admirably perform their duties, and encourage feedback on the Department's performance or the actions of its members.
Commending superior performance
To commend the actions of a South Portland Fire Department employee you can:
- Ask to speak with the Duty Chief and verbally communicate your praise; or,
- Write a letter to the Fire Chief explaining your praise.
Commendations received by the Fire Chief for any South Portland Fire Department employee will result in the employee being advised of your gratitude and a permanent record of the employee's actions and your appreciation placed in the employee's personnel file. Depending on the situation, the employee could be considered for the other department or community awards recognition. Minimally, the employee is made aware of your kindness and appreciation.
When you have questions
The South Portland Fire Department is committed to providing the best possible emergency services. Citizen cooperation and input is essential if the Department is to achieve this goal. If you have questions about any specific action taken by the Department or have a recommendation on how we can improve police services, you can do any one of the following:
- Call the department at 799-3311 and ask for the Duty Chief
- E-mail the Fire Chief or the Deputy Chief of Personnel
Your questions or recommendations can also be mailed to:
Chief James Wilson
South Portland Fire Department
South Portland, Maine 04106
The complaint process
There are two methods for investigating and resolving complaints against members of the Department. One method is informal, the other is formal.
Most complaints against employees can be resolved by the employee’s supervisor. This is considered an informal investigation. In an informal investigation, the firefighter’s Officer meets with the employee and then determines the appropriate action to take to resolve the complaint.
With more serious complaints of misconduct, the Fire Officer will take an initial statement from the complainant and then refer the incident to the Internal Affairs Unit for a formal investigation.
Filing a complaint
The Officer in Charge or designee will meet with you privately, as soon as practical, to discuss your complaint. Your complaint will be received in a polite, professional manner and you are expected to conduct yourself in a similar manner. If your conduct is considered inappropriate, the Officer in Charge may insist that you return at another time to discuss the complaint.
You may also file a complaint by writing a letter directly to the Fire Chief. Your letter will be given appropriate attention; however; definitive action can be taken only after a thorough investigation into your complaint. This is a requirement to ensure proper handling of our mutual concerns.
While the South Portland Fire Department does encourage citizens to file complaints, the complaints must be made in good faith. Should the investigation reveal that a complainant or witness made statements known or believed to be false; the Department could pursue criminal charges against that person. Civil action against an untruthful complainant could also be pursued by the employee who is the subject of a false complaint.
When you have a complaint
- Ask to speak to the Fire Officer
- Explain your complaint to the Fire Officer
- The Fire Officer will attempt to identify the exact nature of your complaint and the identity of those involved.
- If appropriate, the Fire Officer will resolve the matter directly.
- If appropriate, or at your insistence, the Fire Officer will begin the formal Internal Affairs process.
- An investigator from the Department will contact you to schedule an interview.
- You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement stating that you understand the consequences of filing a false complaint.
- You will be given a signed receipt indicating that your complaint has been received by the Internal Affairs Unit for a formal investigation.
- Once the Internal Affairs Unit has interviewed all those involved and gathered all the facts concerning your allegations, the matter will be presented to the Fire Chief.
- The Fire chief will determine, based on a preponderance of the evidence, whether or not the employee violated any of the rules and regulations of the South Portland Fire Department.
- If the Fire Chief finds that the employee did violate the rules and regulations of the Department, the employee will be disciplined in accordance with those rules and regulations.
- Your complaint will be reviewed for any way we can improve policies, procedures and or training.
- You will receive written notification from the Fire Chief regardless of the outcome.