Grand Bay Volunteer Fire and Rescue is looking for a new fire chief after Chief Grayling Christian resigned.
Christian posted this to statement on Facebook:
As some of you may know, I officially resigned as Chief of the Grand Bay Volunteer Fire Department last night. I would just like to say to the community of Grand Bay thank you for all the support you have given me over the past 4 1/2 years. It was an honor and a privilege to serve this community and I wish all of you and the Grand Bay Volunteer Fire Department and Fire Board members nothing but the best as they move forward.
Grand Bay Fire District Board ordered Christian to dismiss at least two-to-three firefighters, including Christian’s son, who is a volunteer.
Board member Monnie Tripp said instead of following orders, the former chief resigned during Thursday’s fire district meeting. Several volunteer firefighters walked out, too.
“We lost a group along with it. I don’t know if they going to stay gone or it’s a permanent thing. Yeah, some others walked off,” Tripp said.
Board President Tony Bagget told NBC 15 News the firefighters they wanted gone had violated policy several times by doing things like letting non-firefighters ride in emergency vehicles. A violation, Bagget said, that could have put the fire department’s insurance policy in jeopardy. Some residents like Tamara Robinson said now is not the time to let any volunteers go.
“I believe we can’t afford to lose any. We are a small town, but we have big fires down here,” Robinson said.
The board appointed Christian as chief back in 2016. We were not able to reach him for comment. However, Lt. Gavin Chandler reached out to NBC 15 during our 6 p.m. newscast. Chandler was one of the volunteer firefighters the board wanted gone. He said the board was trying to find reasons to force Christian out of his position. According to Chandler, Christian was paid $500 a week as fire chief and the board was tired of paying. He said nine volunteers quit after the chief resigned.
Grand Bay Fire and Rescue was among the 11 fire departments fighting the massive wild fire in south Mobile County. This issue is coming at a time when the board is pushing for a fire tax increase in the upcoming election.
“These firemen deserve it. It’s not about me, it’s about these firemen and the quality of work they are doing,” Tripp said.
Until a new chief is appointed, the fire district board president will serve as interim.