JESUP — The city is reviewing employee policies after a controversy involving the fire chief’s ability to keep his post after moving out of town.
Andy Trumbauer, who has served nine years as the chief of Jesup’s volunteer fire department, was asked to resign recently by Mayor Larry Thompson.
“Our job description says the chief has to live in the city limits,” Thompson said.
But when Thompson asked the City Council to approve his appointment of Assistant Fire Chief Kevin West to serve as interim chief, firefighters from Jesup and surrounding communities packed City Hall on Jan. 16 to support Trumbauer.
Council members voted 5-0 to reject West’s appointment, leaving Trumbauer in charge for now.
“We had firemen from other towns there showing support for our fire chief,” said Councilman Denny Bell. “The volunteers are almost 100 percent behind him if not 100 percent.
“I don’t think you go against your firemen,” he added. “In my opinion we should remove that (residency requirement).”
Bell noted Trumbauer can get to the fire station from his home in about a minute and a half.
Thompson said the fire department bylaws require a five-minute response time for firefighters. But he reiterated the current city job description, which was adopted in July 2012, requires the chief to live in town.
“The job descriptions haven’t been gone through in five years so we’re in the process of going through them,” Thompson said. “We’re going to sit on this for awhile, but it will be up to the council.”
During the council meeting which is available for viewing on the city website, Trumbauer said he had never seen the job description and questioned why the issue wasn’t raised when he moved four months ago.
“I’m concerned there’s a personal issue involved versus what’s best for this community, the city and the fire department as a whole,” he said.