SUMMERDALE, Alabama — Summerdale Mayor David Wilson said he felt the town was moving in “positive direction” by revamping the volunteer fire department.
It was announced at the Summerdale Town Council meeting on Monday, June 10 that both the fire chief and assistant fire chief had been removed from their respective positions.
“Morale was way down in the department,” Wilson said. “Our numbers were way down and people just weren’t joining the department. The recruiting techniques being employed simply were not working.”
As a result, Wilson said, emergency calls within the department’s jurisdiction were going unanswered.
“We had a situation recently where there were three calls that nobody responded to,” he said. “The council met and decided the way to move forward would be to simply start over with the department.”
Wilson said although options were discussed with the town council, the move did not require a vote.
“As mayor I am in charge of all personnel,” he said. “Even though those two positions are volunteer positions, it is still my responsibility and my decision. That is one of the hardest tasks I have to perform, but I did what I thought needed to be done.”
According to reports, three firefighters also quit following the removal of the chief and assistant chief. Woody Kicklighter has been appointed to fill the position as interim chief, while Derrick Givens was appointed as interim assistant chief.
“Once the department gets back on its feet, there will be a meeting and the firefighters themselves will appoint a permanent chief and assistant chief,” Wilson said.
The town is also in the process of using the department’s ad velorum tax money to purchase a new dual band radio system for the department, which will allow the town to communicate through systems being installed across the area.
“That money is earmarked for the department. We have to be very careful how we use it and keep records of how that money is being spent,” Wilson said. “We are pretty well set as far as equipment. We are just looking at a few things that will make are department better moving forward.”
Wilson said he has also offered to use his own private funds to purchase 100 matching T-shirts for the department and the town is in the process of building a new fire station.
Wilson said he has already seen a positive impact from the changes.
“I think people are really excited and are on board with what we are doing,” he said. “This is not a bad thing. We see this as a positive step forward for our fire department and our community.”