Tanja Vidovic Made at least 18 Unsubstantiated Claims Against Tampa Fire Rescue

Tanja Vidovic has made numerous unsubstantiated claims against Tampa Fire Rescue. In each case Tampa Fire Rescue investigated the claims by interviewing Tanja Vidovic and employees of Tampa Fire Rescue. There are several reports that provide details of the allegations and the final conclusion. This page provides the details of those reports. The reports are consistent in stating Tanja Vidovic's recollection of events is inconsistent with others. The first report concludes, "Firefighter Vidovic's account of events is routinely different from that of witnesses to the same event. Witness accounts are consistently more credible."

Investigative Findings of Tanja Vidovic's Claims Against Tampa Fire Rescue

Tanja Vidovic made 11 unsubstantiated and one substantiated claims against Tampa Fire Rescue. One of the unsubstantiated claims was a "serious, possibly criminal event" where she alleged she received one or more "warning call(s)" that "someone was going to mess with her gear." The report is included in its entirety.

All complaints raised by Firefighter Vidovic have been thoroughly investigated using written accounts provided by employees and submitted at the direction of Tampa Fire Rescue management as well as face-to-face interviews, obtained under the Firefighter Bill of Rights and in accordance with prevailing laws. Prior to the final resolution of each issue, additional complaints were received that, in some cases, were related to previous complaints. This fact, coupled with her delays in reporting, inability to recall critical details, failure to comply with direct orders in providing information and her use of available leave time, contributed to delays in concluding these investigative matters. Following is a summary of Firefighter Vidovic's complaints and their outcomes.

Warning Call regarding gear - Firefighter Vidovic alleged that she received one or more "warning call(s)" prior to her return to work that upon her return, someone was going to mess with her gear. The City viewed this as a serious, possibly criminal event. Despite multiple interviews and direct orders, Firefighter Vidovic maintains that she cannot remember who made these call(s). When given a direct order to produce her cell phone records, Firefighter Vidovic delayed doing so, eventually providing records for the wrong time period, a full year prior to her return to work. Without any further verifiable information, the City has nothing more to investigate.
UNSUBSTANTIATED

Warning Call, City will try to fire you - Firefighter Vidovic alleged that she was "warned" by multiple people that upon her return the City would try to fire her. Similarly, Firefighter Vidovic cannot recall the name of a single person who warned her, and has continued to bring forward these allegations without any information to assist the City in investigating further.
UNSUBSTANTIATED

Mask Failure - Firefighter Vidovic alleged that when the mask issued to her upon her return failed, it caused her to remember the "warning call(s)" received prior. Firefighter Vidovic's mask failed during a routine equipment fitting during initial training which was prior to her return to duty. Its failure was determined to likely be due to the age of the mask, as it was her previously assigned mask, returned to Firefighter Vidovic upon her return to work. Upon its failure, she was fitted for a new mask, as part of normal operations in the Training Division.
UNSUBSTANTIATED

Mask was removed from her belongings while at Station 20 - Firefighter Vidovic alleged that her mask was removed from her personal belongings while at Station 20. The City found no evidence to substantiate this allegation.
UNSUBSTANTIATED

Training Ground Incident with Captain Steve Suarez - Firefighter Vidovic alleged that Captain Suarez was aggressive with her and she thought he would hit her. While the City's investigation validated that a verbal exchange with raised voices occurred, the matter was addressed by Training Chief Sue Tamme when it occurred, resulting in verbal counseling with both Captain Suarez and Firefighter Vidovic. There was no allegation at that time that Captain Suarez would hit Firefighter Vidovic. That allegation was made (weeks) later.
UNSUBSTANTIATED

Double standard of treatment - Firefighter Vidovic alleged that Captain Jason Traina's decisions on jerrying at Station 22 were retaliatory. Firefighter Vidovic alleged that Captain Steve Suarez left his bunker coat on scene without appropriate action being taken while Firefighter Vidovic while she was verbally counseled on May 15, 2018 for leaving her mask at Station 20. Additionally, that Firefighter Brad Clark was allowed to arrive late without taking appropriate action while Firefighter Vidovic was verbally counseled May 18, 2018 for not leaving the station timely when ordered to jerry. The City's investigation revealed that Captain Traina's jerrying policy was in place prior to Firefighter Vidovic's assignment to his station, and was well known by those under his command. Furthermore, the jerrying policy is a decision left up to each Captain and Traina's policy is a globally accepted practice within the agency. lt was determined that Firefighter Vidovic was inaccurate in her allegation of her peer firefighter being late, as he reported to the proper location and then was instructed to jerry to another. Captain Steve Suarez was given a letter of counseling for having left his bunker coat at the fire scene in question. Therefore, the City's investigation concluded that there was no evidence to support Firefighter Vidovic's allegations of retaliatory or unfair treatment.
UNSUBSTANTIATED

"Get Over It" written in the condensation on the bathroom mirror at Station 22 - Firefighter Vidovic alleges that someone wrote the words, "Get Over It" on the bathroom mirror where she showered. Her words were that the message was "freshly written" on the mirror and that she always locks the bathroom door. Based on the interviews of those at the station, the City cannot determine that the writing was directed at Firefighter Vidovic, written by someone else, directed at someone else, or written by Firefighter Vidovic herself.
UNSUBSTANTIATED

Allegation of stealing at Station 22 - Firefighter Vidovic alleged that she overheard a conversation during the work day where peer firefighters accused Driver Engineer Persio Abreau of stealing. Witness accounts corroborate a conversation about purchases which are made from the pooled resources of the crew. None recall raised voices or any accusation of theft. The witness accounts are consistent and are more credible than Firefighter Vidovic's account of events.
UNSUBSTANTIATED

Damage to the door at Station 1 - Firefighter Vidovic alleged that Driver Engineer Persio Abreu used such force that he damaged a locked door, while attempting to open it. While Firefighter Vidovic's written account detailed the wrong date and a witness who was not present at the time, witness accounts validate an event surrounding the opening of this door. These accounts are consistent that the door was not locked and had previously been turned in as a maintenance request for service. An inspection of the door validates there was no further damage to the door than its condition prior to the event.
UNSUBSTANTIATED

Inappropriate Language - Firefighter Vidovic alleged that Driver Engineer Warren Gibbs used the term "Spic". When questioned, Gibbs admitted the use of the term "Spic" and it was verified by a witness that he was referring to himself. While the context of his comment was not discriminatory in nature or context, a letter of counseling was administered to Gibbs as his comment was inappropriate in the workplace. He was further counseled on Tampa Fire Rescue's commitment to providing a harmonious work environment. On another occasion, Firefighter Vidovic alleged that Driver Engineer Leo Ines-Galura used the "f" word after he discovered his food had been thrown out during the cleaning of the station refrigerator. When interviewed, Galura admitted its use, elaborating that he had apologized to everyone within 15 minutes of the incident and self-reported his behavior to his Captain. He recalled Firefighter Vidovic having accepted his apology and offering to share her food with him, which he declined.
SUBSTANTIATED

Brown Sludge on Bedding at Station 20 - Firefighter Vidovic alleged that while unpacking her bed linens from the trash bag in which she carries them, she noticed a foul smelling brown sludge. In her interview she alleges that her bag had been moved from her bed to the floor and that the bag and the floor were both wet from the floor having been mopped. While the odor was foul, she believed the contents were not feces or from a chemical odor. At the time it occurred, she did not report the incident to anyone and slept on a corner of the bed linens. She returned for her next shift with the soiled linens and washed them in the common washer at Station 22 without notifying anyone. While subsequently drying the linens, she returned to find them still wet. She reported the incident at that time, because she believed someone intentionally shut off the dryer. The City's investigation was unable to substantiate that anyone intentionally placed a substance on her bedding while at Station 20. Additionally , it was established that the dryer at Station 22 has been in disrepair and others report having taken 2-3 cycles to get items dry.
UNSUBSTANTIATED

Mannequin Head - Firefighter Vidovic made a formal complaint and filed a police report because she felt threatened when she found a "decapitated doll head on a stick shoved with violence in her bag". When interviewed her peer firefighters had knowledge of the cosmetology mannequin which had first appeared at Station 4 for Halloween. It was tossed into the closet in the Station's Night Watch Room by a Firefighter assigned to clean the station in preparation for a visit by a Girl Scout Troop. The witness accounts are consistent and more credible than Firefighter Vidovic's account of events.
UNSUBSTANTIATED

Firefighter Vidovic has consistently failed to recount critical information necessary for the City to properly investigate her claims of improper treatment. Additionally, she was not forthcoming with documentation when ordered to provide it. After numerous delays, her explanation that phone records she eventually provided for the wrong year was an accident is not credible based on her original presentation of the information. Firefighter Vidovic's account of events is routinely different from that of witnesses to the same event. Witness accounts are consistently more credible.

Source: Tampa Fire Rescue Investigative Findings

Investigative Findings of Tanja Vidovic's Facebook Claims Against Tampa Fire Rescue

A citizen complaint was received by Tampa Fire Rescue through the City of Tampa messaging system. The complaint, dated March 11, 2019 states, "Firefighter and community activist Tanja Vidovic made some very alarming claims about Tampa Fire Rescue on a public Facebook page. I'm hoping the allegations can be investigated." lt further goes on to state some of the details of the Facebook post (which is attached to the complaint) and closes by stating, ''I hope these allegations aren't true- but she's making these disparaging comments with a social media profile that has her in her firefighter uniform next to a Tampa Fire Rescue truck. ''

The snapshot of the posts details comments reportedly made by Firefighter Vidovic via Facebook:

Last week at work i had to walk away at work because they were talking about hitting animals on purpose with their cars (1)....and eating cats and dogs (2)....People are sick

Yup....Snapping their necks (3) ... They were also laughing about that poor woman who lost her life in that fire las week (4). And then my capt started laughing about the time he hit a bicyclist with his f550 and broke both his legs.... (5)

I have been in truck so many times as FF's TRY to hit dogs and cats (6)

I know ....It is so disgusting

We have thoroughly investigated this complaint. The investigation consisted of interviewing Firefighter Vidovic and ten (10) other Tampa Fire Rescue personnel. Firefighter Vidovic indicated these comments were made in the kitchen/ dining area of the station. The personnel interviewed constituted all the persons who could have made or heard these comments. All persons were ordered to appear for interview by Management and all interviews were held in accordance with the Firefighter Bill of Rights

Interviewed:
FF Vidovic April 11, 2019
Capt. Bert Oglesby April 26, 2019
D/E Tyler Dunn April 26, 2019
FF Brian Sawyer April 26, 2019
FF Vincent Abella April 26, 2019
FF Oscar Benitez April 26, 2019
D/E Kiersten Schmidt April 26, 2019
FF Jorge Rodriguez April 26, 2019
Lt. Ken Newman April 26, 2019
FF Louie Crawford April 26, 2019
FF Glenn Sanchez April 26, 2019

Interview of Firefighter Vidovic April 11, 2019

Firefighter Vidovic was interviewed on April 11,2019 where she acknowledges she authored the Facebook comments. She is asked about the comments and she offers the below explanations. The ten (10) other employees are asked about the comment in an attempt to learn the facts surrounding each allegation. Those responses are listed below.

1. Last week at work i had to walk away at work because they were talking about hitting animals a purpose with their cars

Firefighter Vidovic states that Driver Engineer Tyler Dunn talked about hitting animals on purpose during a conversation at the dinner table in the station.

Captain Oglesby reports he never heard DIE Dunn make this comment and follows that he had heard Dunn saying previously he got verbally reprimanded by Lt. Peterson for stopping a truck for a dog years ago.

D/E Dunn denies ever making the statement and adds he slammed on the brakes and a Lieutenant squeezed through to front of cab as he tried to avoid hitting a dog once when running an emergency call.

FF Brian Sawyer reports he never heard the statement.

FF Vincent Abella reports he never heard the statement.

FF Oscar Benitez reports he never heard the statement.

D/E Kiersten Schmidt reports she never heard the statement.

FF Jorge Rodriguez reports he never heard the statement.

Lt. Ken Newman reports he never heard the statement.

FF Louie Crawford reports he never heard the statement.

FF Glenn Sanchez is unsure if he was present but reports he never heard that statement.

Findings: Unsubstantiated

2. and eating cats and dogs) ....People are sick

Firefighter Vidovic states that Driver Engineer Tyler Dunn talked about eating dogs. Driver Engineer Tyler Dunn is not opposed to eating pets, cats and dogs as long as it's not his pet.

Captain Oglesby reports there was a conversation at the table about eating cats, dogs and goats to survive. He states two of the firefighters are from Cuba and explained that cattle is for the royal family and that ordinary citizens eat what is necessary to survive. Captain Oglesby states the conversation involved the two firefighters which he believed were Rodriguez and Martin, himself, and D/E Tyler Dunn. He states the conversation was about the Cuban culture. Captain Oglesby adds that they were likely eating Venison or some sort of wild game at the time of this conversation.

D/E Dunn states there was a conversation at the table, further explaining members at the table were discussing Cuba as they were bom and raised there, and that they explained people eat cats and dogs. Dunn states he admitted that if he if he had no other choice he would try it.

FF Brian Sawyer reports he cannot recall this conversation.

FF Vincent Abella reports he did not hear this comment.

FF Oscar Benitez states he does recall the conversation, adding that in Cuba people used to eat cats.

D/E Kiersten Schmidt states she did not hear this conversation, nor does she recall it.

FF Jorge Rodriguez states that in Cuba it is normal, it is a cultural thing. People will eat anything that walks, further adding that in China they used to eat dogs.

Lt. Ken Newman states he recalls a conversation about eating unfamiliar animals, people from poor countries. Lt. Newman stresses it was the context of the conversation which is important and therefore he did not find it offensive.

FF Louie Crawford reports never he heard the statement.

FF Glenn Sanchez is unsure if he was present but reports he never heard that statement.

Findings: Able to substantiate the statement through D/E Dunn's own admission and the corroboration of others that this conversation occurred and provided consistent context for the conversation .The portrayal of the context of the conversation of those interviewed differed greatly from Firefighter Vidovic.

3. Yup....Snapping their necks

Firefighter Vidovic states that Driver Engineer Tyler Dunn talked about snapping dog's necks during a conversation at the table

Captain Oglesby reports never heard the statement

D/E Dunn denies ever making the statement

FF Brian Sawyer reports never heard the statement

FF Vincent Abella reports never heard the statement

FF Oscar Benitez reports never heard the statement

D/E Kiersten Schmidt reports never heard the statement

FF Jorge Rodriguez reports never heard the statement

Lt. Ken Newman reports never heard the statement

FF Louie Crawford reports never heard the statement

FF Glenn Sanchez is even unsure if he was present but reports he never heard that statement

Findings: Unsubstantiate

4. They were also laughing about that poor woman who lost her life in that fire las week

Firefighter Vidovic states that Driver Engineer Tyler Dunn laughed about the woman who died in Polk County Fire. Captain Oglesby laughed about the woman who died in the Polk County Fire. She is unsure of when this occurred, however, she believes the TV was on and that is where the conversation started.

Captain Oglesby states FF Vidovic brought it up, concerning what was in the news. He states she gave a vague description of what story was about. He states TV was on in background, he would not have been laughing. He states the conversation to his recollection was about how you use tanker trucks in rural areas, what TFR procedures are and what TFR would have done.

D/E Tyler Dunn states he has no real recollection, however he speculates if the conversation happened the team was more than likely ''Monday morning quarterbacking'' or discussing what they would have done differently.

FF Brian Sawyer reports does not recall the conversation

FF Vincent Abella reports does not recall the conversation

FF Oscar Benitez reports does not recall the conversation

D/E Kiersten Schmidt reports does not recall the conversation

FF Jorge Rodriguez reports does not recall the conversation

Lt. Ken Newman reports does not recall the conversation

FF Louie Crawford does not recall the conversation

FF Glenn Sanchez is unsure if he was present but reports he never heard the statement

Findings: Unsubstantiated

5. And then my capt started laughing about the time he hit a bicyclist with his f550 and broke both his legs....

Firefighter Vidovic states that Captain Oglesby laughed about a bicyclist he hit with his F550, bragging that he broke both of his femurs and the cyclist got the ticket. She again believes this conversation occurred in the dining / TV area of the station.

Captain Oglesby states he did engage in conversation about an incident which occurred twenty five (25) years ago. Bicyclist riding wrong way on street. Uses the story as a learning tool, the person received a ticket. States he has probably recounted that story at least ten (10) times during his career, he denies laughing, doesn't recall the specific circumstances of when he shared the story in recent history, however, adds at the new station they do not run a lot of calls and so the crew talks about ''previous calls'' and life stories.

D/E Dunn states he thought the story was from the past.

FF Brian Sawyer reports does not recall the conversation

FF Vincent Abella reports does not recall the conversation

FF Oscar Benitez reports he recalls something about an accident years ago, he does not recall anyone laughing

D/E Kiersten Schmidt reports does not recall the conversation

FF Jorge Rodriguez reports does not recall the conversation

Lt. Ken Newman reports does not recall the conversation

FF Louie Crawford does not recall the conversation

FF Glenn Sanchez is unsure if he was present but reports he never heard the statement

Findings: Unsubstantiate

6. I have been in truck so many times as FF's TRY to hit dogs and cats (6)

I know ....It is so disgusting

Firefighter Vidovic is asked about this disturbing comment and she states that Captain Paz purposely tried to hit dogs and cats while driving a TFR vehicle and that this occurred when she was first hired. She states she never reported it, and has no other examples of this action. Paz is no longer employed with TF and is not interviewed.

Findings: In the Facebook post Firefighter Vidovic did not provide specifics on this allegation however when interviewed she offers the name Captain Paz. Paz is no longer with Tampa Fire Rescue and is not interviewed. However, all other parties were asked if they had ever seen anyone deliberately trying to hit an animal while operating a TFR vehicle, or if they themselves had deliberately tried to hit an animal while operating a TFR vehicle. All parties interviewed denied knowledge of this allegation. Other than Firefighter Vidovic's words there is no evidence to support the allegation that members of Tampa Fire Rescue try to hit dogs and cats on purpose while in the course and scope of performing their duties nor is there any evidence to support this disturbing act occurs while off duty by members of Tampa Fire Rescue.

Findings: Unsubstantiated

While being interviewed Firefighter Vidovic also makes the following allegations:

Driver Engineer Tyler Dunn stated that if a dog is in the middle of the road it is too stupid to live. No one interviewed heard this comment.

Driver Engineer Tyler Dunn told a story about punching a dog over and over in the face as hard as he could and was laughing about it.

Captain Oglesby reports there was a conversation about punching a dog in face. He states the conversation was about a retired FF's ranch and hog hunting. Oglesby states he personally is not a hunter and although it is not something he would engage in, Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) says it is legal. He states it is known as ''baiting''. He offered that a hog will kill a dog if you don't get it to release. He states FF Vidovic was offended by the conversation and after she sent him a text message he responded to her text and spoke with her. (Copy of text message attached)

D/E Tyler Dunn states he does recall the story and believes it occurred as a result of him discussing the dog that bit his wife after it got into their chicken coop. Dunn states he was speaking about hunting hogs on a friend's property and the owner of the dog talked about that when a dog bays (comers) a pig they will begin to fight and you have to get the dog off of the animal. He states Firefighter Abella has a perrnit to hunt pigs in the county. No one appeared offended or relayed anything to him that the conversation was offensive.

FF Brian Sawyer states he recalls the conversation was related to hunting, to get a dog off a hog. He was not offended by the conversation

FF Vincent Abella does not recall the statement

FF Oscar Benitez recalls the conversation and states it was in relation to hunting pigs

D/E Kiersten Schmidt does not recall the statement

FF Jorge Rodriguez states he recalls the conversation, it was about hunting pigs, states we were talking at the dinner table like family

Lt. Ken Newman states he recalls the conversation, something to the effect of having to punch a dog in the side, hunting conversation, and dogs. He personally does not hunt but understands that the dogs are trained to grab pigs and have to be physically removed from the pig. He states a hunter has to punch the dog's to get the animal's mindset broken and release the pig.

FF Louie Crawford doesn't recall the statement

FF Glenn Sanchez is even unsure if he was present but reports he never heard that statement

Findings: Conversation occurred, however, the portrayal and context differ greatly from Firefighter Vidovic to the subjects interviewed.

Driver Engineer Tyler Dunn called Feminists ''stupid'' indicating the only people upset over women wearing thong bikinis were ''stupid Feminists.'' Captain Oglesby took no action after ''Stupid Feminist'' comment despite hearing it. FF Vidovic then indicates he is there for the conversations but follows with she cannot be 100% sure he was present.

Captain Oglesby reports he did not hear this comment

D/E Dunn denies ever making the statement

FF rian Sawyer reports never heard the statement

FF Vincent Abella reports never heard the statement

FF Oscar Benitez reports never heard the statement

D/E Kiersten Schmidt reports never heard the statement.

FF Jorge Rodriguez reports he showed Tyler Dunn a picture of a man wearing a one piece thong that his wife said she was going to get him to wear on vacation. He does not know if anyone was offended. He has no knowledge of ''feminist'' comment.

Lt. Ken Newman reports never heard the statement

FF Louie Crawford reports never heard the statement

FF Glenn Sanchez is unsure if he was present but reports he never heard that statement

Findings: Unsubstantiated

Captain Bert Oglesby told the others FF Vidovic complained and to watch what they say around FF Vidovic after she texted him advising she did not want to be around that conversation but would come back to assist with clean up after dinner.

Captain Oglesby states he spoke to FF Vidovic in crew quarters after the text message exchange and then relayed to the crew that this has become an uncomfortable conversation. (Regarding the pig hunting/ dog conversation) Filter your subject matter. Awareness if it is uncomfortable to one. He states the crew's reaction was OK

D/E Dunn states he has never been told ''watch what you say around Vidovic''. He says FF's tend to have ''cussing mouths'' but it is never in relation or directed at someone specific. He has never been told his conversation was inappropriate.

FF Brian Sawyer reports does not recall the conversation

FF Vincent Abella reports does not recall the conversation

FF Oscar Benitez reports he has no recollection of Captain Oglesby telling the crew to ''watch what they say around Vidovic.'' He adds FF Vidovic apologized to him advising that he will receive a notice for a formal investigation. Benitez accepted her apology and states he was ''startled'' that there was an investigation.

D/E Kiersten Schmidt reports does not recall Captain Oglesby making that comment.

FF Jorge Rodriguez reports does not recall the conversation, however, adds they were given Rules and Regulations in the past about ''no cussing'' and how to behave. He further adds he was cleaning bathroom with another FF and Vidovic was ''waiting outside the door'' and apologized for the investigation stating she wasn't allowed to discuss the matter but she was sorry they had to go through it.

Lt. Ken Newman reports does not recall Captain Oglesby stating ''watch what you say around FF Vidovic''

FF Louie Crawford does not recall the conversation

FF Glenn Sanchez is unsure if he was present but reports he never heard that statement

Findings: Unsubstantiated

Conclusion:

Some of the allegations made by Firefighter Vidovic surrounded conversations that others acknowledged occurred, however the witness accounts of the tone and context of the conversations is different than the manner in which FF Vidovic presented the information on social media and in her interview. Other allegations could not be corroborated by any of those interviewed. She often sits with crew at dinner, however, does not eat with the crew or engage in many conversations. Those interviewed were unaware that the conversation was offensive to her as it is not unusual for her to get up and leave without speaking. Most indicated some level of discomfort with her approaching them regarding the formal investigation although all acknowledge she stated she could not discuss the matter.

Firefighter Vidovic consistently has a differing portrayal of events in comparison to witnesses.

Cc: Todd Alt, Personnel Chief
Kimberly Crum, Director of Human Resources
Nick LoCicero, Fire Chief

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