The State Worker

Cal Fire director ‘repulsed and embarrassed’ by academy scandal

Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, shown here in a budget committee last year, on Thursday asked Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott about the scandal at the Ione Academy.
Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, shown here in a budget committee last year, on Thursday asked Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott about the scandal at the Ione Academy. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Cal Fire’s Ione Academy scandal came up during Thursday’s Senate budget subcommittee hearing when Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen asked department Director Ken Pimlott, “Have you been able to in any way to investigate other of the sites, other institutions, other locations, other camps, just to see if there have been any problems there? Have you heard of any reported, or is this all we’re dealing with now?”

Pimlott, who hasn’t made himself available to The Bee for an interview, gave this answer:

“The issues identified at the academy are limited to the academy. However, any time something like this is presented, I have a responsibility to make sure that this is not a systemic issue throughout the department.

“What we have done very aggressively is, as I’ve mentioned, I have met with all of our managers – I have 21 unit chiefs who are responsible for managing operationally the entire department – I have met with them multiple times including just as late as last week. We’ve had that very discussion, the expectation that they are all taking a look internally to their operations with my expectation this kind of behavior is unacceptable.

“I will tell you straight up, the feedback – no different than me – they are all repulsed and embarrassed by what occurred at the academy and they are taking this very seriously. They want to make sure this does not happen on their watch, under their control.

“And again, when you have 7,000 employees I would like to be able to sit here and tell you that every last one of them is behaving. I know I can’t say that verbatim, but I can tell you that as soon as those things come forward, by whatever means they come forward, we have very clear direction that they are to be taken care of very swiftly and appropriately.”

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.

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