Six months ago, the city of Franklin and Simpson County agreed to merge their fire departments to save money and improve response time. Now some former firefighters are speaking out about the current state of the the combined department.
Several former Franklin Firefighters are concerned that the new city-county department is not being managed properly. They also question exactly why they were dismissed from the department.
After the merger Simpson County's Fire Chief, Mark Holcomb, was named the new Franklin-Simpson Fire Chief. According to fire fighters who worked under Holcomb, after the consolidation he let them go for no particular reason.
"I drove them for eight years out at the city department and was trained in it, to drive them, and handle them, and pump them, whatever was needed on that truck I was capable of doing. Then he came up and tells me I'm not capable of driving that apparatus, I just feel that that wasn't right at all," Donnie Miller said.
Miller and Gary Gammon said they both were let go after disagreements over how the new department was being run. Gammon said he was let go after voicing his concerns at a public meeting. He also said Holcomb didn't follow protocol during his dismissal.
Department guidelines state that an officer is responsible for preparing paperwork regarding a dismissal. Gammon said he was told their would be no paperwork.
"I asked him right then, well if I was suspended, what was I suspended for, where's the paper work? Then he said right then, there is no paperwork," Gammon said.
Gammon also said Holcomb broke rules by not informing him he was suspended. "There's no reason, there's no excuses what so ever why they could not have contacted me, to let me know about my suspension."
For Miller and Gammon they said it raises the question, were they dealt with justly and was the departments consolidation really fair.
"They said this was a merger, they brought the county and city together, but what really happened was they dissolved the city," Gammon said.
"That's all it is, is a political move, something that was done under the table," Millers said.
Simpson County Judge Executive, Jim Henderson said since the decision was made he has heard very little negative reaction from the community. In fact, Franklin Mayor, Jim Brown said the overwhelming response he heard from the public was to consider a consolidation.