Local News

Selma Mayor Wants Suspended Firefighters Gone for Good

Posted June 8, 2007
Updated June 9, 2007

— Nearly half of Selma’s volunteer fire department was suspended after walking off the job Thursday.

But a suspension is not enough, Mayor Charles Hester said Friday. He wants them gone.

Hester walked outside his house Thursday evening to find 10 firefighters’ gear, including boots and hats, lined up on his sidewalk.

The display was in protest of the town manager’s decision to replace their volunteer fire chief -- who has been with the department for more than 30 years -- with a new paid, full-time chief.

Mike Kendall was one of those firefighters who walked off the job. He said this is just the latest in a battle that's been brewing for years between Selma’s volunteer firefighters and town leaders.

“Let him go out with his dignity. Don’t throw him out, and that’s what they’re determined to do,” Kendall said. “If the town’s going to be ugly, we’re going to be ugly.”

The firefighters say hiring a full-time engineer would cost less, much less than $55,000, and help them more with maintenance. But Town Manager Stan Farmer has the last say. He thinks the department needs better leadership.

“It’s not up to the employees to tell the town manager who to hire as a department head,” Farmer said.

Kendall disagrees.

“The city manager isn’t going into a house that’s burning, so I don’t think he needs to do the hiring,” he said.

Hester said he plans to dismiss the 10 firefighters from their positions. At least one fireman says go ahead.

“There’s really not much they can say that would make me want to be a fireman here anymore,” Kendall said.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • always concerned Jun 10, 2007

    SextonFamily1,i think your opinion of yankees is unfair. i am a transplanted yankee. i have been here for 15 years and love it. we don't have "money to spend",yet my husband and i have contributed a lot of time and money to our communities. i agree there are yankees with attitudes, but there are also southeners, such as yourself. i am proud to live in NC. i suspect that the firemen that walked off the job are a mixture of natives and yankees, so u r contridicting yourself on yankees vs natives. it was a peaceful protest to make a point whether any of us agree with it or not. i happen to agree with it. i do not like to see these forums become childish name calling and finger pointing sessions, but u r a disgrace to southerners. if u had taken the time to gather the facts, u would know that the mayor is from selma. most people's ancestors are not originally from this country. if yours are, wonderful for you. if not, u may want to rethink ur attitude towards others invading ur space.

  • anonemoose Jun 10, 2007

    I keep hearing the very stupid question of "how do you fire volunteers". The same way you fire anybody else. You tell them that their services are no longer needed, and here is a box for your stuff. Just because they are a volunteer doesn't mean that they can't be fired, dismissed, let go, shown the door, or what other phrase that you want to use. I'm sure that the VFD by-laws have a mechanism in place to do that, and it's very possible that the city manager has a say-so in the matter. What you are trying to say, is that once someone becomes a volunteer, that they can't be removed, but yes they can, or you would have child molesters, rapist, thieves murderers, and people afraid to go into a burning building on the VFD. Maybe what is happening to the Chief is happening in the wrong way, but it probably needs to happen in the end. If I had a choice of a Chief coming to my house fire, I'll take a Chief with a degree in fire science and 15 years on the truck daily over any volunteer Chief.

  • svaraj38758 Jun 10, 2007

    With all due respect to family, I think the record probably will show that kin folk is treated a lot different than how people are treated. The video that I've seen likely shows the essense of this and an arrogance that I find uncomfortable in a town leader. There are people who want to lead and there are great leaders. I think the situation could be revealed by next election time that the former is more true than the latter. I know a few people in Johnston County and the Selma area, and can say that come election, if I were a Selma residents, I'd reflect and pull the lever in another direction.

  • Butt Nugget Jun 10, 2007

    SextonFamily1-Mayor Hester is from Selma. I know this b/c he is my grandfather. My dad grew up in Selma and attened the local high school in Smithfield as did my aunt and uncle. Our family is in no way Yankees (no offense to anyone). I was born and raised in Johnston county as a matter of fact. My grandfather has done ALOT for Selma! If everybody knew what was REALLY going on, then you wouldn't be talking about him or Mr. Farmer. I am not even sure about everything going on, but my grandfather would not be doing what he is doing without a good reason. He is a great man who has done many great things! For the VFD, going to my grandparents house and laying their gear in their front yard was just immature. They could have gotten their point across in a different way.

  • msw958 Jun 10, 2007

    The men who "walked" off the job are volunteers, which means they choose to answer fire calls in their district, they do not have to answer a house fire call or a car wreck they do it because they have a compassion for people who are in need and enjoy saving lives and people's property. The chief who is volunteer has chosen to do what he does for so long. As the daughter of a rescue chief, my father has served for almost 30 years and he has chose to do what he does, let the volunteer chief go out with his dignity like Kendall says. He didn't have to serve with the dept as long as he has, he chose to. As for the mayor of Selma, I hope he doesn't need those fireman or any of their co-volunteers as I will call them to answer a major fire in that area. How do you fire volunteers anyway? As most fireman that I know are, they may not be blood related, but it is and can be a strong brotherhood.

  • Dnut Jun 10, 2007

    I'm not sure how, but my comments were deleted. I guess the censors at WRAL decided they don't like the word YANKEE! But there's a good probability that the mayor and manager aren't from Selma. We've done this to ourselves, our parents..grandparents.., we let our politicians and leaders for years tell us to let them run the show, we voted for it, we got it. Yankees out the wazoo, with money to spend, things to build and now they want to run everything down to the small town firehouse!! We should have built toll booths at every entrance coming into North Carolina, and if your not born and raised here, you pay triple the tax the rest of us do!!

  • wizard633 Jun 10, 2007

    Mayor Hester should hope & pray that a big fire does not break out in his district for a while to come.The bottom line is; He got embarassed!

  • twixandbetwwen Jun 10, 2007

    I am glad to say that I get very good fire services from one of Selma's neighbors-Pine Level. The PLVFD has been very good when we have needed. Also, by being in the PL District, I can get better Insurance Rates than if I were in Selma. My only concern is the fact that can both of these departments fight the Hazardous Waste type fires that could occur accross the street from me. To give you example: At any one time across the street from on a rail siding could be coal trains,JP4-Jet Fuel and Anhydrous Ammonia. My thought is I wonder if Charles Hester would join the VFF as the Commander based on his being a USMC Major, Ret?

  • supermom2 Jun 10, 2007

    They did about the same thing in the town of wake forest the other year, but their fire department is still run by a board of directors. but they fired their full time chief, because he was splitting his time between the paid staff and the volunteer staff, I mean trying to manage 2 different groups of people go figure...Makes perfect sense to me, but it into one of those peeing contest between the board of directors. It was all very interesting to read in the local paper. And to hear people still talk about what is going on up there is still just as interesting. Any way, you will have to be wary, because it only takes one person to completely tear organizations like this apart. The mayor needs to swallow his pride, and just accept what those gentlemen did. It was in protest to a decision he made, and if he does not like negative attention, then politics is not where he belongs, and he just needs to get over him self.

  • always concerned Jun 10, 2007

    sorry, hit add comment too fast. donewithecu, how do u "punish a volunteer in a way he will never forget"?