Jul 25, 2017

Special membership meeting called by Fortuna Fire in response to "media attack"?

"The Fortuna Fire administrative Secretary sent out a department wide text message this morning calling for a special membership meeting to show support for their embattled fire chief for the negative he is getting"

(I cropped the text message to remove personal identifying information.)

After my reporting, both on a Fortuna Fire article on two firefighters as well as on the Jon Goldberg case (which included being the first to report on court documents about the affair between Tim Smith and Rachel Goldberg), I received an email and my last communication from Fortuna Fire Chief Winburn. The other comments were all anon; obnoxious and made it obvious how they felt about anything being reported that didn't fit their view. Only pro Tim Smith and Fortuna Fire coverage was okay by these anons.

Is this latest organized effort being directed at Kym Kemp and this NCJ article?



  1. To those of you who thanks they know more about fire fighting than our own Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department, than you need to go out and get a real life and job in another part of the World. Chief Wilburn and his staff and crew are as competent and knowledgeable about these types of fires than about anyone around. I (as a retired Scotia Volunteer Fireman for 27 years), would trust my life, my home and everything that I have to the FVFD and it's fantastic Chief, Officers and Crew (whom I know most of them. And for me, I'm a little ashamed of Kym Kemp (Redheaded Blackbelt) for her actions. Chief Wilburn would not have asked her to take down the posts if there wasn't a compelling reason to do so. At this point in the conversation, I'm going to take a little closer look at the articles that Kym is posting. For me, Chief Wilburn and his Department has my full support and hope that all of you naysayers will get a life and understand what firefighting is all about and give the Volunteer's of the Fortuna Vol. Fire Department your FULL SUPPORT. Sincerely, Eldon G. Whitehead __ Fortuna, CA.

    1. This is a very ill-advised public relations & legal strategy by members of Fortuna Fire to respond to critics.

      First, there is an ongoing investigation. Until the conclusions of the investigation are finalized, no one should be talking to anyone other than counsel. It is insane for anyone involved to even discuss what took place given that such communication could be used against employees possibly in either criminal or civil proceedings.

      Second, a public agency refusing to issue press releases to web sites or journalists in retaliation is counterproductive.

      Third, web sites who allow commenters to post replies are subject to Section 230 of the CDA (Communications Decency Act). The CDA gives legal immunity to web sites for comments posted as long as the web site does not alter the original comments posted by a third party or imitates a third party in posting defamatory material. Therefore, Kym Kemp is not legally obligated. She can always volunteer IP information, screen shots, e-mails, etc. of comments to those preparing a defamation suit. Parties wanting to sue commenters can also petition a court to obtain information (see: Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek recently in Texas).

      Conflating internet commenters with "the media" to circle the wagons over public employees who are being investigated by legal authorities is asinine.

      A final note: if members of Fortuna Fire decide to sue Kym Kemp or commenters on her site, it would be a horribly uphill battle right away with an anti-SLAPP motion to strike hearing to squash a libel case. Since the controversy is over a matter of public interest, the burden would immediately shift to the plaintiffs to produce evidence showing a likelihood of succeeding. Plus, there's the debate over whether or not there's a burden of proving actual malice if a court deems Fortuna Fire employees to be limited public figures.

    2. Even further: withholding a press release(s) only works if none are released at all. This is the internet and Kym simply could link to another site where a release is posted. ~TMOB

  2. "“Please remove our media release regarding the fire in Royal Crest from your site, we do not want any association with the comments that are being allowed to be posted.”

    That's not how it works, bro. You don't get to control the media because you don't like the opinions of the public. You have to face them sometime. Be glad it's just online and not outside in a public arena to be roasted over. You can ask that something be removed, even bring a lawsuit against persons for libel or defamation if it can be shown, but the outlet is not required to remove it. ~TMOB

  3. Why would the fire chief even make any comments until the investigation was complete? Again complete "incompetence " on his part!!! Let's see if he can truly answer the following questions (1) is it true that the fire chief had been notified previously of the poor eater source of the park hydrants and failed to remember this on the day of the fire? Is it true that several years ago a tractor/trailer caught fire in the old P.L. lot and special saws were used to gain accesses to this heavy metal object why were these same saws not used to gain access to a thin metal mobile home? Finally, why were firefighters order into the Greens Pharmacy fire to find the fire without being aided with water supply lines? It all spells total "INCOMPETENCE " and has nothing to do with the professionalism of Kym Kemp

  4. Lose lips sink ships. Chief Winburn sunk the ship, his department and his members. Morale is at a all time low. Time for the fire board to make a change !!!!