Office of Professional Standards
Do you have kind words, a complaint or concern that you'd like to share about Polk County Fire Rescue? The Office Professional Standards within Fire Rescue is the place where residents can provide an assessment of the agency’s overall performance. The office investigates all complaints of performance and misconduct against our agency or its personnel as well as commendations to recognize exceptional public service.
Polk County Fire Rescue serves Polk’s residents and visitors with courage, integrity and pride. This office is committed to ensuring that its members meet the highest standards of professional conduct. As with any organization our size, it is prudent that we take measures to ensure the mission of the department meets the requirements and fundamental expectations of the public we serve.
Fire Rescue employees take great pride in receiving recognition for their service to the community. That atmosphere improves morale and encourages its members to improve their individual performance and the quality of the services they provide.
To commend a member of our team for a job well done, please complete the Fire Rescue Citizen Commendation Form.
Commendations are delivered to the team member and his or her supervisors, and a copy is placed in the employee's personnel record.
We recognize that there are times when residents have questions or concerns about an interaction with an employee or something they observed. Supervisors will address your concerns and/or answer any questions about our policy and procedures.
Assistance during business hours
To discuss your concern or questions with the appropriate supervisor, contact the Polk County Fire Rescue Headquarters at (863) 519-7350, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Assistance after hours
For assistance after hours, contact the Citizens Information Line at (863) 401-2222. An operator will direct you to the appropriate supervisor for assistance.
Fire Rescue welcomes all complaints from the public. The complaints are investigated by the Office of Professional Standards, which allows the agency to examine the services we provide to our community and to make necessary improvements in the delivery of those services.
To file a formal complaint, please complete the Citizen Complaint Form.
We respect your privacy and will not distribute your personal information except as necessary to resolve your request or complaint. However, you should be aware that this information is subject to the state's public records law and may be disclosed upon request.
Fire Rescue policies prohibit retaliation against anyone making a complaint against its employees. Strict adherence to these policies is expected and an employee's non-compliance will be addressed accordingly.
Can I file an anonymous complaint?
Anonymous complaints are accepted with the understanding that the investigation is more difficult when the complainant is unknown. The Office of Professional Standards highly recommends providing contact information. This allows us to ask follow-up questions that may be crucial to the investigation. All complaints are accepted regardless of immigration status and investigators will not ask complainants or witnesses about their status.
What is the investigative process?
Complaints are submitted directly to the Office of Professional Standards for review and are issued a tracking number. Depending on the severity of the allegation, the case is assigned to either the Professional Standards investigator, or the employee's supervisor for a thorough investigation.
Administrative investigations are conducted under the guidelines of the Florida Firefighter's Bill of Rights, Florida Statute 112.82 and the member's respective collective bargaining agreement, if applicable.
The complainant and the affected employee(s) will be kept informed of the investigation's status throughout the process and will be notified of the finding and final disposition once the investigation is complete.
You may contact this office directly with additional questions, or to check the status.
What are the possible outcomes of the investigation?
Once the investigation is complete, the file is reviewed by a commanding officer or supervisor for a recommended finding and disposition. Possible dispositions include:
- Sustained: The allegation was supported by preponderance of evidence to justify a reasonable conclusion that the incident occurred.
- Not Sustained: The allegation was neither proved nor disproved by a preponderance of the evidence.
- Unfounded: The evidence supports that the incident did not occur or the employee was not involved.
- Exonerated: A preponderance of the evidence indicated that the alleged conduct or action occurred; however, the conduct/action was lawful and proper.
- Policy Failure: The investigation revealed a policy or procedure deficiency. (Recommendations will be made as to how to change or improve the agency's policy
- Other: The evidence supports a sustained violation for some other matter discovered during the investigation or other exigent circumstances exist.
If the allegations are sustained, the following disciplinary or corrective actions may be recommended:
- Involuntary Transfer
- Suspension (With or Without Pay)
- Performance Improvement
What if a complaint turns out to be false?
Polk County Fire Rescue assumes and expects that residents will not file frivolous, vindictive or false complaints against employees who have properly performed their duties. Florida state law prohibits providing a false statement under oath or in writing with the intent to mislead a public servant.
Investigators may request a statement in connection with any investigation.
If a complaint is made on good faith belief of the truth and the agency member is exonerated; the matter will be considered closed.