Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
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Preliminary summary points to lieutenant getting job back

It appears an embattled former Monroe County Fire Rescue lieutenant, also the current firefighters union president, will be getting his job back, according to sources close to the matter.

An arbitrator has ruled that John Hamburger, president of the International Association of Firefighters 3909 union, can have his job back, but will not receive back pay for the year he was out of work, Monroe County Fire Rescue Jim Callahan said.

Callahan stressed Monday he does not have the full report and has only seen a brief summary of the arbitrator's decision, but it appears the ruling went Hamburger's way.

"All I have is a four-sentence summary, but it does appear he is getting his job back," Callahan said. "It says he will be suspended from Dec. 2, 2011 to Dec. 2, 2012 without pay. As to specifics I don't know and I can't comment on things I don't know yet."

Hamburger claims he was fired because he blew the whistle on an Aug. 10, 2010, incident in which a Trauma Star flight medic allegedly took medical supplies from the Marathon helicopter hangar to treat a volunteer firefighter with a non-life-threatening malady.

The county countered that Hamburger was fired after repeated incidents of insubordinate behavior and that his leadership role in the union had nothing to do with Callahan's decision to fire him, Assistant County Attorney Cynthia Hall said in October.

"We have not yet received a copy of the arbitrator's decision and would like to reserve comment until we have done so," Hall said Monday.

Some of those incidents included one on July 12, 2009, in which he yelled at a supervisor on the phone; on July 26, 2009, he allegedly failed to properly file paperwork; and Aug. 16, 2011, he was stationed at the Stock Island fire station, where it took the crew six minutes to respond to a call, according to Hamburger's personnel files.

Hamburger declined to comment for this story when reached by phone.

A closed hearing was held in October before the arbitrator in which Hamburger, who lives in Miami, made the case that he should be reinstated.

"All I can say further at this time is that if this is the binding decision, then I hope he is a good, productive and positive employee," Callahan said.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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