A Firefighter's Fight Part 2

By: Stuart Peck Email
By: Stuart Peck Email

Officials and former firefighters disagree over how much training the new Franklin-Simpson Fire Department has.

Some former Franklin firefighters claim the new department is not being managed properly and that they were let go for no good reason.

Donnie Miller and Gary Gammon tell WBKO they were treated unfairly by Chief Mark Halcomb when they were dismissed during the merger. Halcomb could not be reached for comment.

Another concern raised by the ousted firefighters since the consolidation is the issue of training. City and county officials say the new department has plenty of training to do their job safely and effectively.

"A lot of firefighters they have now are not qualified to go into a burning building," said Donnie Miller, a former firefighter.

"You've got essentially a veteran crew on both departments, that came together and have remained," said Simpson County Judge Executive Jim Henderson.

Officials and firefighters have mixed opinions when it comes to the ability of Franklin-Simpson's fire department. Franklin Mayor Jim Brown said extensive training for swift water rescue isn't necessary.

"It's not something that's used, we're not on the Colorado River, we're not in a situation where that's a daily, or monthly, or even yearly event," Brown said.

Former firefighter, Richard Watson disagrees. He said having a river in Simpson County makes that type of training vital.

"We've had two swift water rescues at the old dam during the old dam construction. To say this stuff in not being needed, no it's not used everyday but it is very necessary," Watson said.

Judge Henderson said by merging the two departments together, the county and city became safer. He also said he hasn't heard any negative feedback about the decision in a long time.

"The pool between city and county now is certainly greater than it was for either department separately before. To suggest that we have less, trained firefighters now then we did before is just not true," Judge Henderson said.

Regardless, some believe if changes aren't made, it could lead to very negative results.

"What's going to happen is somebody is fixing to get hurt bad. I don't want to see that," Miller said.

Mayor Brown said after the consolidation, the city contracted with the county to provide fire protection. He claims the merger has improved response time and made the department more efficient. Brown said he still talks to Henderson and Fire Chief Mark Holcomb on a regular basis and is kept informed to what's going on with the department.


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