AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Commissioners say Chief James was never given the opportunity to defend himself in person before the decision was made that his time running the fire department was over.
For Fire Chief Chris James, the heat has been on. Tuesday commissioners accepted his decision to resign.
“I think there we’re votes to have him terminated if he didn’t resign,” said Commissioner Bill Fennoy.
The 7 to 3 vote to remove James came only a month after city leaders decided to implement reforms from, the needs assessment to get the fire department back on track.
“I was surprised because I was under the impression that we were look at the assessment making some adjustments based on the assessment but it appears their primary goal appeared to be termination of the fire chief.”
But the needs assessment basically reflected what the Firefighters Association had been saying for months. The department was dysfunctional, no chain of command, and the loss of respect for leadership.
We’ll be standing by waiting to assist the commission rebuilding the department and moving forward. We’re all about what’s best for the city,” said Firefighters Association President Philip Brigham.
Under his agreement with the city James is off the job but still on the pay roll, well into next year.
“It does cost a lot of money but he fell under that category with 30 years with the city,” said Commissioner John Clarke.
But even though James is getting paid his commission supporters still did not like the way things went down.
“For him to go out the way that he did to me it was an insult to his character his integrity and his leadership,” said Commissioner Fennoy.
In January of this year commissioners increased James salary by 25 thousand dollars to 150 thousand dollars, that’s the salary he’ll be paid through August of next year.
In Augusta, George Eskola WJBF NewsChannel 6.