Smoke hasn’t cleared on Augusta fire chief selection


Augusta, Ga (WJBF) –  Well the smoke is clearing, Augusta has its finalists for the fire chief job while others accuse the City of violating state law for not releasing the names of the other finalists who were in the running.  

For Augusta commissioners the search for a permanent fire chief has been extinguished finding their finalist Antonio Burden. said Mayor Pro-Tem Bobby Williams. 

“To me he presented the most maturity of the group that we had we need someone who will go in and listen, pull the fire department together,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Bobby Williams. 

Burden was one of four finalists for the position, Channel 6 filing an open records request for documents on all the finalists something the City has not provided, 

“State law has been violated in that the documents regarding the top three candidates have not been provided as requested under these open records requests,” said Georgia Press Association attorney David Hudson. 

An internet search of Burden found a 2014 story from WSB in Atlanta whereas DeKalb County Fire Marshal Burden came under fire for putting children in danger by not following up on code violations at church schools and day care centers.   

My hope is back then if there was a fire hazard notice written we would have followed up on that,” Burden said to WSB-TV in 2014 

“But you didn’t,” said the reporter.  

“Correct,” he answered.  

Commissioners saying, they didn’t know about this during selection process. 

“It is concerning we want somebody who is going to be transparent we’ve gone through a lot in the past with fire chiefs,” said Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight.  

Lawyers saying Burden can’t be named chief until two weeks after the city releases the requested documents.  

“It would be a violation if the city would now hire the individual who identified until those 14 days have expired after the documents have been provided,” said Hudson. 

We’ll listen to anything else our lawyer Wayne Brown has to say about it and if that’s what’s needed that’s what we’ll do,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Williams. 

Now the Augusta Professional Fire Fighters Association which has a lot of influence on the job security of the fire chief says it is not going to comment on this selection wanting to remain neutral.

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