Local News

Battle Between Selma Firefighters, Mayor Heats up

Posted June 13, 2007

— A Selma assistant fire chief has been fired and 10 other firefighters’ jobs are on the line after a dispute last week.

The firefighters were suspended after walking-off the job 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.

To protest the change, the firefighters placed their gear outside Mayor Charles Hester’s house on June 7.

The town initially suspended the 10 for their actions. Assistant Chief Alvin Heath has since been fired after the mayor said Heath called his house multiple times and left a threatening message.

“It was enough that when I played it for the town manager, he felt the person should be terminated,” Hester said. “You know, like asking me to come to his house and we’d settle it man to man or gentleman to gentleman.”

Hester said a suspension for the rest of the firefighters is not enough. He wants them gone, too.

A mediation meeting between the mayor, town manager and the firefighters was scheduled for Wednesday night. It was not open to the public, but the town manager is expected to report on the outcome Thursday.

“It may be termination of all those people, it may not be, but I don't know yet,” Hester said.

Both sides say it's a battle that has been brewing for years.

Firefighters want the town to hire a full time engineer to help maintain equipment. On Tuesday night, the town board voted instead to move forward with a budget that includes a $55,000 salary for a new full time chief.

“I don’t think it’s getting out of hand,” Hester said. “I think it’s just coming to a head.”

Chief Price and his firefighters declined to comment until the town decides what to do with those who turned in their gear.

99 Comments

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  • DJ of Clayton Jun 14, 2007

    "didn't selma used to have a sign welcoming you to the home of the klan? just a bunch of good ole boys..." That was Smithfield.

    "how can you suspend a volunteer (key word, here, folks) who walks off the job?" Easy- "You're suspended". Besides, those guys do draw a check.

    "Getting rid of a person who has volunteered his services for 30 years...Does the Mayor have an assistant-- looks like two people sitting in his chair?" Employers do that all the time. Maybe the current chief can apply for the job. Maybe after 30 years it is time to retire. Firefighting, like anything, changes with time.

    Maybe, just maybe, there is a reason the town council is proceeding with this. Obviously, we do not have the entire story. Volunteer fire departments and volunteer fire chiefs have been replaced in numerous communities in NC over the past 15 years or so, sometimes with good reason.

  • TarheelTurtle Jun 14, 2007

    didn't selma used to have a sign welcoming you to the home of the klan? just a bunch of good ole boys...

  • TarheelTurtle Jun 14, 2007

    how can you suspend a volunteer (key word, here, folks) who walks off the job?

  • superman Jun 14, 2007

    Getting rid of a person who has volunteered his services for 30 years and then hiring a new person and paying him 55,000 is grossly unfair. That would leave a "bitter" taste with city employees and volunteers and should have city residents up in arms. That is just so unfair. I would hope that a small town could treat their own better than that. Does the Mayor have an assistant-- looks like two people sitting in his chair?

  • Historians__8th Jun 14, 2007

    Timmy Wayne Strickland ran for Mayor last time, what was the percentage of votes 1% ? What are your qualifications and education. And what about your criminal history ? Are you behaving yourself now ? Did you ever graduate ? I know you used to be a cook at Sonic Drive-Inn, but have you even had a job since then ? You time and money would be better spent on a goal you can actually achieve!

  • JQ Public Jun 14, 2007

    Headlines: Mayor Plays with Fire. Get Burnt! Andy, arrest the Mayor for impersonating a public official. Keep Gus as the Volunteer Fire Chief. He must have been doing something right! If you really want to do the right thing, hire a Code Enforcement/Building Inspector and make them the Fire Marshal. Hire a paid driver to staff the station during daylight hours when the volunteers at their regular jobs. The paid driver is your Apparatus Engineer. Do you really need a paid Fire Chief when you just spent good money in prevention and maintainance?

  • listening Jun 14, 2007

    How many "Volunteers" does the Selma fire department have?? I mean in most small towns when you have 10 people walk out that's the whole department or at least half. And does Mayor Hester have 10 more trained volunteers sitting on a bench waiting??

  • gratefultoGOD Jun 14, 2007

    Mayberry needs Andy Griffin to come in and straighten these boys out! Sounds like they need to "learn a lesson!" Barney still has a bullet...

  • chickenwire Jun 14, 2007

    tws1234..."I KNOW THE ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF IN SELMA, AND WE WAS FIRED FOR CALLING THE MAYOR`S HOUSE AND THREATEING HIM. I EVEN THREAT THE TOW,S MANAGER AND MAYOR. THEY ARE SO SCARE RIGHT NOW".................You need to work on you're grammar and spelling before you run for mayor.

  • tws1234 Jun 14, 2007

    THAT IS WHY I,M RUNNING FOR MAYOR THIS YEAR. I WANT TO CLEAN UP THIS TOWN, AND GET RID OF THE NEW FIRE CHIEF AND SOME OF THE TOWN COUNCIL, AND THE TOWN MANAGER

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