Union pressures push Bill Gillespie out as Humboldt Bay Fire Chief?

Bill Gillespie is out as Humboldt Bay Fire Chief, and everyone wants to know why. Was it a conspiracy? Has he suddenly gotten scared of fire? Did he get tired of Kim Bergel’s farts? Is he just looking forward to collecting his pension on chilling on the lake?

As reported on every almost every local news outlet, (including, but not limited, to the Times-Standard, LoCO, John Chiv, News Channel 3, etc.), Gillespie abruptly resigned following a closed session of the Joint Powers Authority group which oversees Humboldt Bay Fire.

Now, rumors are a-swirlin’ about the single reason he left, and we think there a few plausible options to choose from.We love a good conspiracy, but tend to think that the explanation is a little more simple in this case.

The one unifying factor from all the rumors that we’ve heard are this: the pro-Union JPA was pressured to oust Gillespie as a result of his push back against union members within Humboldt Bay Fire. This is all the more plausible when you consider that the joint power authority contains folks like Austin Allison, who openly stated his preference to negotiate a contract beneficial to fire fighters.

Gillespie has publicly butted heads with Union President Matt McFarland, on several occasions over the last year, such as when he contradicted the union’s claim that HBF’s swim rescue program was being discontinued due to lack of funding. Gillespie loudly pointed the blame for the program’s demise at a lack of willing firefighters. Gillespie also earned the ire of McFarland and the Union when he reprimanded none other than Matt McFarland for insisting on wearing a Black Lives Matter pin on his uniform.

Aside from our general aversion to the amount of compensation received by public employees, we’re of the opinion that Gillespie is a great guy, all around. To put that in perspective, when was the last time you heard THC say anyone was a great person?

We’re hoping that it wasn’t the pressure of pro-union JPA board members that forced Gillespie out , even if it sure seems that way. No, we hope that Gillespie said “F*** you, I quit” when faced with such blabbering bullshit coming from people that are supposed to be concerning themselves with public safety, and not the politics of a few firefighters.


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12 Responses to Union pressures push Bill Gillespie out as Humboldt Bay Fire Chief?

  1. Lynn Mae says:

    Given Humboldt’s accomplishments in hiring a County Counsel and Public Defender, I wonder
    if they’ll make it a trifecta and hire Mr Gillespie’s replacement from the “Bienes Dañados” Agency?
    People might want to think about increasing their fire insurance coverage, who knows what sort of problems will arise without firm, experienced leadership?
    The way this happened should give anyone one considering applying good reasons to want more answers and more guaranteed. Unless, as I said, it’s going to be a retread.


  2. Disillusioned says:

    Gillespie didn’t resign he was fired.

    I lay the blame squarely on Matt McFarland, Austin Allison, Kim Bergel & Natalie Arroyo. Period.


    • Liz says:

      Any time there’s a McFarland involved, there is a stench. Look at his father’s history. Used car sales personified.


      • Arcatan says:

        Indeed, the McFarlands do have a rather checkered history. Even so it’s not really fair to hold his fathers misdeeds against him. Especially true when there are plenty of his own shenanigans to know that we should steer clear. I wonder how he hoodwinked the union into electing him anyway?


  3. Jimmy says:

    Local firefighter unions are rotten (Humboldt and Arcata). Look into their histories.


  4. Michael Hunt says:

    Don’t forget to add the City Manager to the list rotten apples. He has as much blame as the others you list. The City Manager didn’t like it much that the Chief did not answer to him. Just Saying.


  5. Guest says:

    To clarify, the issue with the Black Lives Matter pin was Matt’s and only Matt’s personal grievance with the departments policy. No where will you find a union announcement supporting him, or being involved in the process. The union was lumped together with him by the media because he is president, but that is the only connection. In fact, I’m sure you will very little support for Matt on this matter from the union membership.


    • Welcome Guest!

      It sure would have been nice for the Union to stand up for the department’s position if as you suggest the majority of it’s membership was in support. Why no statements from the Union? Members aren’t exactly known for keeping quiet when they disagree with something. The silence was and is still pretty deafening.

      Thanks for dropping by!



      • Guest says:

        Because like I said, this was a personal fight between Matt and the department, not the union. The union as a whole has no opinion because it was not involved in the matter. As for people’s personal feelings, that’s for them to express if they see fit. If you remember, a union member publicly spoke out against the Matt’s side of the issue and supported the department during the hearing. But just like Matt’s grievance against the policy, it was his own personal feelings and was not speaking for the union. Just because a union member has a grievance against a department policy, it does not automatically make it a union issue as in the case with the Black Lives Matter pin.


      • Guest says:

        Plus as you said “ members aren’t exactly known for keeping quiet when they disagree with something “, wouldn’t the deafening silence you are hearing then be in support of the departments decision since it went against Matt?


      • Thanks for the excellent rebuttal. I guess we’ll be able to tell by the results of the next union election.


  6. Liz says:

    Good point


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