A report outlining the termination of Wesley Ferraccioli was printed from the files at the Brookings Fire Department and sent or delivered to the Pilot anonymously with a handwritten note added to the document blaming Ferraccioli for complaints filed against the Harbor Fire Protection District (Harbor Fire) with the Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration (OSHA).
The anonymous complaint led to citations for multiple “serious” violations – most related to firefighters’ breathing apparatus.
Brookings Fire Chief Jim Watson confirmed the document was taken from the files at the department, was an official document and should not have been made public.
He said the document must have been downloaded from a city computer, and although he had no idea who might have accessed the document, he said he would investigate the matter immediately.
Watson did not respond to recent requests for an update on his investigation.
Ferraccioli left the department in August 2013, according to the document, however, it states Ferraccioli was dismissed, whereas he says he quit the department at that time.
“I never reviewed this document and never knew it existed,” Ferraccioli said. “I never signed it, and I have no idea how it became public or was given to you.”
It is unknown if other copies of the document were printed or distributed.
The document bears Watson’s name, but neither Watson nor Ferraccioli appear to have signed it. There is no indication Ferraccioli had read the report or added input.
The document arrived at the Pilot in a plain envelope several weeks ago after an earlier anonymous letter about Ferraccioli had been sent to the Pilot. Both appear to have been sent to discredit Ferracioli who has been highly critical of Harbor Fire.
“These attacks are occurring because I am becoming way too close to revealing the truth about Harbor Fire,” Ferraccioli said. “And it now looks as if the Brookings Fire Department and Harbor Fire are working together to make me look bad.”
Harbor Fire Chief Bob Larson said he had no idea who would have accessed and released the report.
Brookings City Manager Janell Howard said the city has policies to protect confidential documents, including those involving personnel.
Personnel files are locked in a fireproof file cabinet, which is in a locked vault, according to Howard. However, the personnel-related document sent to the Pilot was not in a personnel file and there were no hard copies.
“I have found a deficiency in the fire department records management and have already corrected it,” she said. “That deficiency was the location of where some electronic documents were stored; they did not have the proper limitation on access.”
Howard did not know how or when the document was accessed but said it was regrettable someone outside of appropriate city management had accessed it.
“It was not appropriate,” she said.
The city will review policies and procedures to see if additional steps need to be taken to improve the security of documents, both hard copy and electronic, she added.
Larson and information officer Neville Hill said they had moved beyond the OSHA investigation, saw the results as positive for the department and had no time or inclination to be vindictive about it.
Ferraccioli – who now sits on the Port of Brookings Harbor Board of Commissioners – said he had contacted several lawyers about the leaked document, but added he had no desire to sue for money.
He said he had nothing to gain from criticising either department but wanted his criticism to better them.
“My objective is that they perform consistently in a manner the public deserves and at a level other departments provide.”