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SF fire chief working to win back confidence

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San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White holding a series of town hall meetings as she fights to keep her job.

San Francisco's fire chief is holding a series of meetings this week with her rank and file after union leaders asked Mayor Ed Lee to remove her. Joanne Hayes-White still commands respect as San Francisco's fire chief even as some in her department try to push her out.

Last month representatives from every employee group presented Mayor Lee with a letter citing a grave crisis of confidence in the chief's leadership.

On Wednesday she held the second of three town halls open to all firefighters in an effort to win back some of that confidence.

"There was concern about a lack of communication," said Hayes-White.

Hayes-White says what she's heard is criticism of her management style in advocating for resources.

"Not fighting hard enough as I can for the budget. I am not someone who slams their hand down on the table. I don't think that works personally. But there is frustration. I think we were able to provide more details as to what the expectation is once we get our marching orders from City Hall," said Hayes-White.

"Is she convincing you she should stay? No, not at this time, no," said Kevin Smith of the Black Firefighter's Association.

Smith believes the chief has not been a strong voice on issues like the ambulance shortage, and an inadequate EMS system that has slowed emergency response times.

"These are issues that didn't just pop up at us. These are things that we knew were on the horizon, that were coming and we thought nothing was done about it to stop it," said Smith.

The Fire Commission has power to recommend the chief's dismissal. The five members have now begun the process of evaluating Hayes-White's performance asking her to respond to questions about department goals and how to achieve certain standards.

"I love this department and I don't intend to stepping aside unless through the process, I would be respectful of, I would certainly do so," said Hayes-White.

One commissioner says they aren't likely to be ready with any recommendation before Thanksgiving.

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SFFDvotingunionsmedical emergencycarbon monoxideambulanceed leesan francisco board of supervisorsSan Francisco
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