Vol. Fire Dept. uproar invokes special city council meeting

By Amanda Hanson - bio | email feedback

MAYNARD, AR (KAIT) - Volunteer firefighters in the town of Maynard are fired up. Last Friday the mayor fired the chief. Since then, the department has been in an uproar. While firefighters normally battle fires, volunteers with the Maynard Fire Department are now in a battle against the mayor's decision.

"He refused to resign, so I had to terminate him," said Maynard Mayor Don Sikes. Last Friday, the mayor terminated the current Maynard Volunteer Fire Chief Randy Weisenbach. "I've got quite a bit of negativity from the decision I've made," said Sikes.

Sikes is also part of the volunteer fire department and says the decision was a tough one. "We've fought fires together. It's the most horrible experience I've had to go through," said Sikes. He says with the drop of morale, lack of crew member training, and other problems that have arisen of the past couple of months, he felt a change in leadership was the best move for the department. But, the decision has enflamed crew members.

"Right now I have opposition against what I've done, and I understand that. They are a family. They are like brother and sisters," said Sikes.

Some at the department have already taken action. A special city council meeting was held last night, intended to vote in three new firemen to the department, but ended with the resignation of four current volunteer firefighters. Sikes biggest concern is the effect the response could have on fire protection for the citizens.

"If more decide to resign because of my actions, definitely. I have to try to immediately rebuild this into a working organization. I don't by any means want to tear down. I want to build up," said Sikes.

Fire Chief Randy Weisenbach has already appealed the mayor's decision, which will be voted on at the next city council meeting April 14th. The council then could possibly override the decision with a two-thirds vote.

The following is a statement for Maynard Fire Chief Randy Weisenbach:

Yes members of the Maynard FD are in a battle...with the mayor!  I was never asked to resign but was asked to come to the mayor's office where I was handed a letter of termination.
 
Many fireman got together on the night of my termination as a "family" to discuss what had been done. 
 
As far as the lack of training in the department, Mayor Sikes is one of the training officers.
 
As far as low moral, it is from a lack of support from the mayor.
 
In Thursday night's city council meeting at the new 6000 sq. ft., 6 room fire station, non council members (30 people) were asked to completely leave the building and stand out in the cold for approximately an hour while the council discussed employment in executive session.  At the conclusion of the meeting, the mayor terminated 4 firemen who had a combined fire fighting experience of 35+ years. These people did not resign, nor quit.  The termination of myself and 4 fireman were executed in a manner against the FD by-laws.
 
As far as allegation about being a family...members all state that they are "a family".
 
This turbulence is costing the people of the community a lot of unnecessary grief and concern and we wish to resolve this for the people of Maynard and the surrounding community.

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