AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta Fire Chief Chris James is resigning.

After a long legal session Tuesday, Augusta commissioners are making a change at the top of the fire department. Chief Chris James is on his way out.

Commissioners approved James’ resignation in a 7-3 vote. Bill Fennoy is one of the commissioners voted against the approval.

He explained, “Well, it wasn’t all about Chief James. We had other stuff that we talked about in legal that required discussion.”

James has been Fire Chief in Augusta for about eight years.

A local firefighters union has criticized him in recent months. They questioned his leadership but Commissioner Fennoy approves of the job James has done.

“A great majority of our firemen are EMS certified. I think that our fire department has a number one rating. One of the top in the country. I think he has promoted from within. He also worked to get higher salaries for the firemen,” said Fennoy.

Consultants took a look at the needs of the fire department. Their study recommended an end to mandatory overtime. They also said the department needed an HR officer.

For now, an interim chief will take over while the search begins for a new one.

Commissioner Fennoy added, “I don’t see the interim person taking over because if they see the way they treated Chief James, they wouldn’t want the position because it would put their job, family, and retirement at risk.”

James will be on paid leave until August 31, 2021. An interim chief has not been named yet.