Selma Mayor Wants Suspended Firefighters Gone for Good
Posted June 8, 2007 11:43 p.m. EDT
Updated June 9, 2007 7:31 a.m. EDT
Selma — 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.
“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.