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Disaster and Accident

South Marengo will fight your fires

The Democrat Reporter of Linden, Alabama

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Move to kick volunteer group out of fire association fails; would have stopped funds

South Marengo Fire and Rescue will continue to fight fires in its area.

Thursday, Aug. 8, the Marengo County Fire Association met to decide on dismissing South Marengo Fire and Rescue Department being dismissed from its ranks.

The vote against dismissal was 7-1 vote; 2 votes abstained.

Kicking out SMFR would have stopped about $25,000 a year of funding from the Alabama Forestry Commission.

Had the unit been kicked out of the association, that $25,000 would have been real-lotted to the 12 remaining members.

Many of the fireman representing the MCFR department were ready and willing to talk about their position on why this meeting was ever a necessity.

The problem was the proposed change to a five mile radius in which each department was to cover. A map was sent out to all volunteer fire departments in the area assigning the primary call area of each department. Upon receiving this map each fire department was to either sign and date and the agreement. They could agree with area assignment and return to the Marengo County Fire Association or not sign.

The would mean the unit was not in agreement with changes to their fire fighting coverage area.

South Marengo Fire & Rescue did not agree with the assigned area; therefore, the squad did not sign and return document. Which prodded Sweet Water Fire Chief Ronnie Bishop's recommendation to remove South Marengo from the association.

Assistant Fire Chief Greg Harrington of the SMFR stated these maps were pre-made and motion was not voted on within the association to authorize anybody to require compliance.

Upon entering the meeting Thursday night, Marengo County Fire and Rescue commander Charles Tucker said he was concerned that the press or other volunteer fire fighters would be recording the meeting. Once the meeting opened Tucker announced that this meeting could not be recorded by anyone but the association.

South Marengo Fire And Rescue Chief Dickie Rogers objected to this but his motion which was denied a vote.

Ronnie Bishop then made a motion to hold an executive meeting; this motion was granted.

Everyone except the chiefs of all the departments were asked to leave the room.

A secret vote was done in private without permission granted to press or other members of the departments in attendance to be present.

Dickie Rogers also objected to a secret ballot but his motion was denied a vote.

Ballots were done on paper and counted by three of the chiefs present.

According to the Open Meetings Law, volunteer fire departments which receive the funding are required to opening their meetings to everybody.

And even during executive sessions, no vote can be taken. Section 36-25A-2 (4) (c) states that The Marengo County Fire Association is subject to this law.

South Marengo presented this information to Morgan Flowers, president of the association weeks ago.

Margaret Stevens (SM48), wife of the late Curtis Stevens has been affiliated with the South Marengo Fire and Rescue Squad since it's origin on Sept. 15, 1975, said she was pleased with tonight's outcome and stated she wants everyone to just get along and work together peaceably in keeping our county safe.

SMFR members are also qualified medics, and Stevens stated they are needed in the community because of their emergency personnel and experience.

South Marengo Fire and Rescue has submitted a new map that will cover its 911 response area. For a mile and a half on Highway 10, it calls for dual coverage with Sweet Water Fire Department.

The association did not take this under consideration Thursday.

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Original Publication Date: August 15, 2013

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