Tensions Flare on Gordonville Fire Dept. - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Tensions flare at Gordonville Fire Dept.

GORDONVILLE, MO (KFVS) -

There's a big shake up at the Gordonville Fire Protection District.

The recent troubles began Wednesday night when the fire department board ousted the fire chief.

The board was set to name a new interim chief at a 6 p.m. meeting on Friday. The meeting lasted only 5-10 minutes. The fire board elected Jay Snider as Interim Fire Chief, and Jerry Siemers as Interim Assistant Fire Chief. Snider is currently a fire captain, and Siemers has served on the Gordonville department for almost 30 years. The two men are expected to serve in those positions for 60 to 90 days.

After the meeting ended, firefighters gave the board a letter with their grievances. 

The board accepted the sealed letter and agreed to consider the matter within 7 days.

The letter says if the former chief isn't reinstated within 7 days, the firefighters who've signed the letter will resign. There are 12 names and signatures on the letter.

The letter says, "LET THIS BE KNOWN THAT WE THE FIREFIGHTERS OF THIS DEPARTMENT WHOLEHEARTEDLY SUPPORT OUR CHIEF RANDY MORRIS JR." In all capital letters.

It goes on to say, "Over the past three years, the chief has made more improvements and advanced the capabilities of this department than in the history of the district."

Due to the Sunshine Law, since only the matter of appointing an interim chief was on the agenda, the fire board would not discuss any other issues, like why the previous chief was fired.

Another meeting will be held next week.

"This is not just about going out on one Sunday afternoon a month and shooting water on a burning barn and playing firefighter" said Jerry Siemers. "This is serious business these days as we have to be professional."

Jerry Siemers is a 28 year veteran on the Gordonville Fire Department. He says he has had it with the drama.

"We've had an ongoing problem with an uncooperative board," said Siemers. 

In 2010 several firefighters walked off the department over a disagreement with the board. All but one firefighter came back. Now there's a new board, but similar disagreements.

On Wednesday the three man board fired Chief Randy Morris, Jr.

"More than anything, I'm bummed out or discouraged it went down the way it did," said Morris. 

There is no official word yet on why he was let go, but firefighters aren't buying the reason they're hearing.

"This made up excuse that he lacks leadership qualities that a board member promoted at Wednesday's meeting is total poppycock," said Morris.

In response to the board firing the chief, the assistant chief and battalion chief have now resigned.

"I also have a long list with a letter of 12 others including myself that unless they immediately re-instate chief Morris we are turning in all of gear and leaving as well," said Siemers.

The outgoing chief appreciates their support, but also worries about the community.

"My biggest fear is seeing the department go backward you could go to my peers who would say we've come a long way," said Morris. 

Jerry Siemers says one of the biggest issues right now is the board's desire to eliminate medical calls.

"If we disband first responders in Gordonville, the community will suffer greatly," said Siemers. 

"That's important in our community," said resident Charlie Skelton.

Skelton says he helped start the fire department in the 70s, and hopes to see this matter resolved soon.

"I know they'll work it out, and eventually they'll be a better department," said Skelton. 

The department stands to lose 15 of its 20 firefighters if the board doesn't re-instate the chief.

Heartland News attempted to reach the three board members for comment on Friday.

Treasurer Jeff Sneathen said the board could not comment at this time, and referred us to the board's attorney David Summers.

Summers did not return our calls on Friday.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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