Tensions flare between council, fire department
by Rachel Davis
Feb 06, 2014 | 3568 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DORA — Friction between the Dora City Council and the fire department continued Tuesday night as the department asked the council to approve a new member and the department’s elected officers.

David Box was elected assistant chief, Jerry Gosnell was elected captain and lieutenants are Trevor Edwards and Chris Uptain. In accordance with the city’s manual, the new officers and new firefighters must be approved by the council.

Gary Thomas made a motion to accept the officers and Clyde Nix seconded the motion. George Sides Jr. then spoke up and said he had discussed the issue with the city attorney, and he believed the city’s rules prohibited family members from working together.

“I’m not sure that father and son are allowed to work together in the same department, based on what I’ve talked to an attorney about, or talked to attorneys about that situation, so that’s just something I would like to bring to the attention of the council,” Sides said.

Mayor Randy Stephens asked that the council approve the officers and check on the legal ramifications. He said if a conflict was discovered, the city could correct the issue later. He said he had spoken to the Alabama League of Municipalities, and they said there was no issue, particularly because it is a volunteer department.

At the heart of the issue is the fact that Trevor Edwards is the son of Fire Chief Chris Edwards.

The officers were approved by a vote of five to three. Sides, Betty Sanders and Hezikiah Walker voted against the measure.

The council was then asked to vote to approve new firefighter Anthony Winkler. Winkler applied to the department and passed the physical agility test in October and has now completed the required 90-day probation period.

Walker once again took issue with the department’s policies related to new firefighters, saying he applied last January and was not allowed to join the department.

Chris Edwards has previously said Walker did not take the physical agility test required by the department. Edwards was not present at the meeting.

Winkler was approved by a 5-3 margin. Sides, Walker and Richard Lovelady voted against adding new firefighters due to issues with the procedures being used.

The council then considered a fire department request to purchase five-inch hoses following a large house fire in Hickory Ridge. Stephens expressed appreciation to the Dora firefighters as well Sumiton and Bagley fire departments for assisting with the fire, but said the Dora Fire Department ran into issues with the water supply once Sumiton left and took their five-inch line.

According to Stephens, Sumiton’s five-inch hose was supplying all three fire trucks from the hydrant, but once they left and the department was forced to use their smaller line, they were unable to even supply their two trucks simultaneously.

The council voted to to approve the purchase of the new fire hose.

In other business:

•The council did not pass an ordinance that would have lowered the speed limit on Reid Road to 25 miles per hour.

With the ordinance defeated, the speed limit will remain 35 miles per hour.

•The council agreed to give $500 to the organization committee for the Horse Creek Jubilee festival. The festival is set for Saturday, May 3.

•The council approved the purchase of two new chairs for the police department.

•The council ended the meeting with an executive session regarding litigation Stephens said he anticipates will be filed in the near future.