Controversy Around Slocomb Fire Chief Position

By: Demetria McClenton Email
By: Demetria McClenton Email

(Slocomb, AL)- Slocomb City Officials appoint a new Fire Chief, but the decision sparks controversy.

To douse the flames, Mayor Rob Hinson addressed the situation at Monday’s City Council meeting.

After 36 years of service and a solid track record, Volunteer Fire Chief Kenneth Ball turned in what he called a letter of termination.

Ball says he's disappointed with how the Mayor handled the situation and says he didn't have an opportunity to state his case.

“It was unbeknown to me, unbeknown to the whole fire department and we were informed it was already a done deal," said Ball after Monday night’s meeting.

With that statement, former Volunteer Fire Chief Kenneth Ball and some of his volunteer staff turned in their equipment.

“I've been here since I was 15 yrs. old and this is ridiculous. People in this town need to wake up," said Justin Myles who quit the Volunteer Department after the meeting.

But what prompted their actions was a statement by the City Attorney.

In 2009, Slocomb City Officials were supposed to appoint a new Fire Chief, Police Chief, City Attorney and City Clerk.

All positions were filled except for Fire Chief.

“Did you fail in your duties to elect a new fire chief? Then you don't have a fire chief," Ball told the Council.

But Slocomb Mayor Rob Hinson says that's not the case.

"I think the way the situation was incredibly fair. I went to his home and had a discussion with him," said Hinson.

He offered Ball a grant writing position, which he says plays to one of his strengths.

Ball declined the offer.

Hinson says the change will advance the Fire Deparmtent.

"We approved 23 firemen to be on the roster We have great equipment and a building built by the end of the year,” said Hinson.

Newly appointed Fire Chief Ronnie Smith didn't comment.

He is Captain for the Slocomb Rescue Squad and will receive a re-imbursable expense payment of $200 a month which was the same for Ball.

Mayor Hinson insists this wasn't a personal decision and says that homeowners rates will not change because of this move.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by michael szcekot Location: slocomb on Mar 6, 2011 at 04:25 AM
    Also in response to "concerned" the good turn out was a good turn out. The individuals you are speaking of that did not show up have full time jobs at paid fire departments, but are very willing to help. They were simply at work.
  • by harold seay Location: Martinsburg WV on Mar 2, 2011 at 11:30 AM
    The Slocomb fire chief thing isnt my problem anymore.I chose to leave the area but I do have family there. So I do have a reason for my comments. Changes there dont come often and dont too often seem to benefit the citizens . Good luck to my family and friends there. And "THANK YOU KENNETH".
  • by Concerned Location: Slocomb area on Mar 2, 2011 at 10:03 AM
    I see where a one gemtleman posted about the "pretty good turn out" at their meeting last night. When the truth is that the overwhelming amount of names that were read at the council meeting didn't show up and have no intention of joining the SVFD. This is not random speculation on my part. This is first hand information from the people on the list. To prove this you simply have to contact these men and ask them. They were put on this list without their knowledge and/or approval. Seems like there might be some broken law there somewhere. Might be time to talk to a lawyer and get some compensation for the undue stress of repeated phone calls and questioning about something they knew nothing about. Oh and one last thing. I have witnessed several town council meetings in my time but I have never seen one ran like this past Monday night in Slocomb. These people were asked to vote on something and most didn't know what they were voting for. What a joke you are Rob!
  • by Michael Szczekot Location: Slocomb on Mar 2, 2011 at 06:59 AM
    Concerned citizen and Danial I assure you your fire protection will not decline and, I'm almost certain it will improve. If you have any questions I will try to answer them to the best of my abilities. We are going to better the level of training of the volunteers, and provide better service for our community. The community is the first priority in any fire department. I honestly believe that you will see an improvement in the coming months. Don't worry guys we are still here to serve you.
  • by Michael Szczekot Location: slocomb alabama on Mar 1, 2011 at 10:13 PM
    ive herd alot of things about if it aint broke dont fix it and so on and so fourth well heres the answer and no offence to chief ball but it wasnt fixed it was very broken these volunteers are lion hearted many showed up tonight at the meeting tonight and it looks like we have a pretty good turn out with at least 4 if not 5 certified payed firefighters we diddnt want to see anyone leave we just wanted the ones that were there to improve michel szczekot ff2 paramedic
  • by harold seay Location: Martinsburg WV on Mar 1, 2011 at 07:50 PM
    Ken ball has always performed above and beyond the call of duty for Slocomb! I was a fireman under him for several years , and also worked with him when I was a police officer there and I think he did a fantastic job . He's always been there for Slocomb, ALWAYS !!!.Nobody is PERFECT !! I also think that the politics and the absolute craziness of SLOCOMB Ala politics finally caught up with some more of the people ( and there's been alot of them)who have given all of their free time to Slocomb and now deemed not worthy by the next bunch of high ranking officials to come along.Volunteers made slocomb rescue and fire dept and changing things that have worked for years will ruin the hard work of hundreds!!! Volunteers mean people volunteer to help the town , it doesnt mean the mayor selects whom it wants to have do the job!!!
  • by Joey Location: dothan on Mar 1, 2011 at 07:50 PM
    I wonder about some of these volunteer fire departments. I know their hearts are in the right place but one moring I was traveling through a town a little north of dothan and the house right next to the fire station in the little town was nothing but a pile of ashes. If they cant get to a house right beside where the truck is? What chance do they have of getting to a house any farther from the station than that? Maybe it was because it was early on a weekend morning and everyone was asleep? I dont know. Good luck to ALL fire departments though. I know there are a lot of good people working for them.
  • by CONCERNED INDIVIDUAL Location: ALABAMA on Mar 1, 2011 at 06:41 PM
    I AM FROM THE NORTH, A YANKEE I GUESS THATS WHAT WE ARE CALLED BY THE SOUTH. THE POINT HERE IS THAT THESE POLITICIANS THEY THINK THAT THEY OWN THE PLACE WHERE THEY WORK AND NOT RESPECTING ANYBODY'S RIGHTS. THEY HURT EACH OTHER BECAUSE THEY DO NOT KNOW ANT BETTER. THE RULE IS THAT THE BEST QUALIFIED CANDIDATE FOR ANY OFFICE ORS POSITIONS ID THEW ONE WHO SHOULD GET THE JOB. JUST LIKE THEY GOT THEIRS, BECAUSE THE PEOPLE VOTED FOR THEM BECAUSR THEY THOUGHT THAT THEY WERE THE MOST QUALIFY TO TAKE THAT JOB. WHY CAN'T THEY DO THE SAME WHEN APPOINTING SOME ONE TO A POSITION. HERE IN THE SOUTH IS WHO YOU KNOW AND NOT WHAT YOU KNOW. I FEEL LIKE RENTING AN 18 WHEELER AND PUT ALL THESE POLITICIANS IN IT AND TAKE THEM ACCROSS THE BORDER GOING NORTH AND REEDUCATE THEM WITH SOME YANKEE SENSE AND HELPING THEM TO CATCH UP WITH THE 21ST CENTURY AND BRING THEM BACK HOME "HOPEFULLY TO DO BETTER" AND SERVE THE PEOPLE WITH RESPECT. YES WITH RESPECT.
  • by Stephen Location: Hartford on Mar 1, 2011 at 10:54 AM
    Hinson was FOLLOWING THE RULES. I know that is out of the ordinary given the history of politicians in the Slocomb area but what he did was right. You don't have to agree with it and it is unfortunate but the mayor has the right to terminate and hire whomever he chooses. There has always been a power struggle between the fire department and others. Hinson has been nothing but great for the city and will continue to be. He is, however, trying to get the city on track and up to speed with everyone else. This requires some tough decisions that my ripple the water along the way. You should praise him for doing what is legal (unlike your senator) instead of bashing him.
  • by Dianne Location: Slocomb on Mar 1, 2011 at 07:32 AM
    To my knowledge, Volunteer fire departments have by-laws. Rules set forth by the organization for governing its own meeting or affairs. Usually the by-laws explain how new members are accepted. Where were these by-laws last night? The city attorney said he was unaware that there were any by-laws. It seems the city attorney and several counsel members were unclear about what they were doing and why. There was no application process for the new volunteers. That may follow when they’ve (the counsel members and new fire chief) realized that they need this for the FD records. Usually members are voted on within the department. Some of the members on last nights list are currently volunteers in other fire departments. They must resign from one or the other. I think all the nonsense could have been avoided when the Mayor realized he had made a mistake by not appointing a new Fire Chief by following a simple rule. “If it aint broke, don't fix it."
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