Citizens worried after firefighters quit

Timmonsville, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

TIMMONSVILLE, SC (WMBF) – Complaints from upset volunteer firefighters continue to plague the Timmonsville Fire Department. Eight of the department's 17 volunteers quit during a meeting this week.

The Timmonsville Fire Department operates as an all-volunteer department with the exception of Fire Chief Malcom Simon, who is paid a salary.

Trey Streett said he and the other volunteer firefighters decided to quit because they feel Simon is doing a poor job of running the department. He said he thinks Simon is ignoring guidelines established for the Timmonsville Fire Department.

Streett was one of two firefighters who turned in his firefighting gear as a sign of protest during a Timmonsville City Council Meeting in March. Streett said he decided to quit at that time because he felt the city undervalued the service of volunteer firefighters.

He said numerous concerns from the firefighters had not been addressed. Specifically, he and other firefighters had not been paid a stipend promised by the town.

Although most of that money has now been paid, Streett said the volunteers still have concerns about how the department is operating. He said the volunteers would like town leaders to remove Simon and allow the volunteers to run the department through a democratic committee.

Patricia Burno and her daughter Saundra Harris of Timmonsville said the volunteers' complaints are concerning. The pair has organized a concerned citizens group in the town.

"It needs to be looked into because these firefighters diligently," Harris said. "They work long and hard. I think something needs to happen either with the fire chief as far as replacement or whatever. What the volunteers are asking is small, is minimal, is something that we all should be able to do - respect, honesty, truth. If you can't do that as a leader you don't need to be here."

Harris said she also worries if the fire department can respond to fires appropriately with only nine active volunteers.

Simon said he could not comment on the resignation of the volunteers.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.