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VIFR responds: Agency will work to ensure harassment doesn’t occur
By HANK LIPE
For The Beachcomber
Last week, the King County Superior Court determined that Vashon Island Fire & Rescue (VIFR) engaged in unlawful discrimination.
That decision affected a great number of people on the Island, from members of the general public who were outraged at the department for supposedly tolerating the misconduct reported in The Beachcomber, to others who were outraged because they felt that the public was not hearing the department’s side of the story.
What is important to understand is that the Hackett lawsuit represents a difficult chapter in the department’s history. Although the district does not agree with everything the judge said, we respect her comments and are determined to ensure that VIFR is an organization where discrimination and harassment are not tolerated. The VIFR board of commissioners will, therefore, be passing a resolution adopting a zero-tolerance policy on unlawful discrimination and insisting that all members, career and volunteer alike, continue to treat each other with mutual respect. To that end, I will take prompt, appropriate and effective measures to enforce district policies and to ensure personal accountability.
The public has a right to expect that the men and women who respond to your emergency needs are professional. It has been my experience since I took the chief position in August that VIFR personnel are focused on excellence with integrity. And you can expect department responders will treat you, and each other, with utmost respect.
— Hank Lipe is the chief of Vashon Island Fire & Rescue.