Decatur City Firefighters Want Council To Remove Department’s Chief

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Several firefighters want Charlie Johnson gone. He runs the Decatur Fire and Rescue Department. The chief's critics say he's not qualified to be in charge. Many of them, including a lieutenant, showed up at a Decatur City Council meeting to explain why.

The lieutenant and council didn't say much of anything to each other. The lieutenant was prepared to talk and give details, but was advised by lawyers to tone it down. The council president made sure to keep things very generic to not create any bias. The lieutenant did tell the council he believes lives are at risk.

"We're having a lot of problems within our fire department. Things that have been developing over several years," said Lieutenant Craig Corum.

Lt. Corum stood in front of the Decatur City Council with the support of his firefighters behind him.

"If you would look into these issues, you would find all of them to be truthful and extremely disappointing," added Lt. Corum.

He believes the problems are life-threatening for the city's firefighters and residents.

"We were asked by the legal department, here at the city, to keep from making it a prejudice thing by the city council. We can not get into the issues at this time," added Lt. Corum.

The lieutenant hoped to convince the council to remove Fire Chief Charlie Johnson, but was not able do that, or even say the chief's name.

"I didn't really shut it down. I just have to maintain the integrity of the process," said Council President Gary Hammon.

Hammon says the council sets policy and the mayor handles the administration.

Hammon says the council also handles any appeals when disciplinary action is taken.

"You can not come before the council to speak bad about someone's good name and character. If you do, you have eliminated their due process," added Hammon.

A member of the firefighter's association told council members this isn't a knee-jerk reaction. He says he's personally dealt with several problems at the department over the last four years.

Lt. Corum says he's willing to wait things out until the council's lawyer decides what needs to happen next.