Swearengin fire chief, others, resign after failed vote

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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) -- The future of a Marshall County volunteer fire department is in jeopardy.

This week residents in four of the five proposed fire districts in the county approved a monthly fee to support their local volunteer fire departments. The fifth district voted no by a wide margin. As a result of that, the Swearengin fire chief and his second-in-command resigned shortly after the vote.

"The community didn't stand behind the fire department," Mitch McCullough says.

McCullough is the former Swearengin fire chief. He says the vote against the extra funding ultimately led him to resign as chief. "I dedicated over a decade of my life to that fire department to try to help improve that community and save them money on their insurance, but I just felt like they couldn't stand behind me and support me," McCullough says.

His second-in-command also resigned.

The volunteer fire departments across Marshall County outnumber paid departments substantially. The volunteer departments receive funding from an annual grant and a monthly allowance from a tax.
Officials say the funding from that tax varies each month.

Officials say that funding isn't nearly enough to run the departments. McCullough says that vote for more funding from residents would have been significant. "There was no way to keep the department open," McCullough says.

The acting chief tells WHNT News 19 if the community doesn't support the fire department it will have to shut down. Officials say they are not financially able to stay open, and there are several upgrades that need to take place.

Officials say they're doing their best to determine how to keep the department running.

Voters in the Swearengin district voted against the five dollar monthly, per-houshold fee by a wide margin -- 180 to 70.

McCullough says that fire department covers an expansive amount of area -- from the area near fire station on Swearengin Road, to the Jackson County line.

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