AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Augusta Professional Firefighters did not get the chance to address commissioners in legal session with their complaints about Chris James. So, today the Association took those complaints public. It was an event that was emotional, fiery, and had one commissioner saying the complaints against James are racially motivated.
Surrounded by dozens of supporters The Augusta Professional Firefighters Association made it clear, Fire Chief Chris James needs to retire or be fired.
“It’s time to go it’s time to retire that’s all that has to be done we stop that’s the end of it,” said Association President Michael Tomaszewski.
The Fire Association saying a majority of its leadership supported Chris James to be chief, but over last couple of years, James has not addressed department problems.
Like with fire station maintenance, under-staffing and requiring mandated overtime.
The Association accusing James of operating in bad faith.
“He chose to lie, displace blame, he chose to try and take punitive action against individuals discriminatorily,” said Tomaszewski.
Bill Fennoy was the only commissioner who attended the press conference. Afterwards things turned heated when a retired firefighter tried to give him information about an upcoming state pension board meeting.
“I believe Black lives matter, and I believe your association is racist and you ought to do what ever you can,” said Fennoy during the confrontation.
“Prove it,” said retired firefighter Steven Bell.
“You’ve already prove it,” said Fennoy
“I’m not going to argue with you,” said Bell
“Well don’t argue then,” said Fennoy.
“He wants to call us and me racists. No sir. Am I mad yes I am. That is uncalled for totally unprofessional he should resign,” said Bell.
Tomaszewski says he didn’t want to be in this position of calling for the Chief to go, the emotions of the moment very evident.
“I care about these people standing around me, I won’t let them be bullied I won’t let them be harassed I won’t let us be lied to,” said the Association President.
The Fire Association is providing hundreds of pages of documents in support of it’s allegations against James. The Association says they needed the state attorney General’s help in obtaining.
Fire Chief/EMA Director Christopher E. James issued a response Tuesday after the press conference.
Fire Chief/EMA Director James said,
“I am aware of and disheartened to hear the allegations the Firefighter Association has
made about me and my leadership of the Augusta Fire Department/EMA. The claims
made by the Association are misleading, and the documents presented are old and have
previously been addressed. I pride myself on running a tight ship that does everything above board. At this time, I have no intention to resign from my position as the Fire Chief/EMA Director.”