OZARK, AL - Officials decide the fate of an area fire chief, caught in the middle of controversy.
After more than 7 hours behind closed doors, the council is allowing Chief Greg Boutwell to return to work on May 6th.
Mayor Billy Blackwell said, “We believe in our Chief. We believe in his leadership. We believe in the job he has done. His record speaks for itself.”
That’s the reason why Ozark Mayor Billy Blackwell and the rest of city council decided not to fire Chief Boutwell on Thursday. However many people wanted the chief’s termination, after he got involved in a serious accident.
He directed dispatch to hold off sending a medical helicopter to the four-wheeler accident outside of his jurisdiction.
Blackwell said, “He actually made the correct decision but he was not authorized the make that decision.”
Since that accident Chief Boutwell has been on unpaid suspension. City council is prolonging that punishment, for two and a half more weeks. He’ll be back on the job May 6th.
Here are the other conditions:
-For one year, Chief Boutwell will be on probation and not allowed to serve on the E-911 board.
-He will have to make a public apology to all agencies involved
-The chief must also undergo testing and counseling for any impairment issues.
Mayor Blackwell says this last part is because impairment may have been a reason for the chief’s actions.
But that doesn’t mean everyone is in favor. For example one first responder said.
“It is a sad day when someone’s life does not matter to leadership. And the Mayor says the right call was made when the audio shows a substantial delay in the patient’s care.”
Mayor Blackwell also said the chief takes responsibility for his actions and was willing to accept his punishment.
Also, the E-911 board is reviewing their bylaws to make it easier to reprimand unethical behavior of any board member.
Chief Boutwell has had that title for three years, he’s been with the Ozark Fire Department for 23.