Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Carmel on the Case: Getting Burned
Two high-ranking Broward fire officials are in hot water tonight after an internal affairs investigation. As 7 News first revealed, it's all about an expensive firefighting system for Port Everglades. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- So far, this giant fire hose system has cost $1 million.
Despite the money and years worth of tests, it hasn't performed as expected.
The system is supposed to give the port extra protection in the event of a fire involving the giant fuel storage tanks.
In addition to trouble with the hose, there has been concern over the connection between the port's Battalion Chief Kelli Allen and Kidde, the company that got the contract.
Al Lamberti, Broward Sheriff: "What disturbed me the most was the involvement, the too-close involvement, I felt, with the vendor."
Sheriff Al Lamberti describes the fire hose purchase as "one of the messes" he inherited when he took office.
He ordered an internal affairs investigation that has now concluded.
As a result, Kelli Allen has been suspended with pay for three days, and her boss, Assistant Chief Tim Keefe, has been demoted.
Sheriff Al Lamberti: "A suspension is significant, and a demotion is even more significant."
According to the internal affairs report, Kelli Allen did not tell the truth on off-duty employment forms.
When she taught training classes at Texas A&M, she told BSO she was working for the college.
Battalion Chief Kelli Allen: "It's a compliment."
But BSO says she was really working for Kidde, the company that got the contract for Port Everglades, something that could be considered a conflict of interest.
On top of that, Allen did not reveal she had what the report calls an "intimate relationship" with the son of a Kidde official.
The internal affairs report also points out e-mails on her BSO computer that concern the sheriff.
Sheriff Al Lamberti: "From a command staff person, I expect more. You have to govern yourself appropriately."
For an out of town trip, Allen sent the same e-mail to two men. It reads, "Staying at Crowne Suites (king size, on the water, by myself, wink, wink.)"
One of the men was her supervisor, Assistant Chief Tim Keefe.
In another e-mail to Keefe inviting him to her birthday party, the BSO report reads, "She tells him that no children are allowed, 'preferably no wives.'"
Tim Keefe was disciplined, because he didn't take Allen off the hose project and because of the inappropriate use of e-mails.
Sheriff Al Lamberti: "I'm disappointed. It's disturbing, and from command staff people, it's just downright dumb some of the things that were done."
Meanwhile at the fifth test of the hose system, the spray reached its mark, but there were mechanical issues.
The port's director thinks those problems can be resolved.
Carmel Cafiero: "So money, time and effort well spent?"
Phil Allen, Port Everglades: "Hopefully, when we get a conclusion."
Carmel Cafiero: "The real test of the system will be if there is a tank fire. Port Everglades is critical to keeping planes flying and cars running throughout South Florida."
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