Members of the Polk County Volunteer Fire Department turned in their gear last week, protesting the recent dismissal of Randy Lacey as county emergency management director and fire chief following a review from the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund that the department falsified information submitted to the fund.

Five members of the agency’s command staff placed their firefighting equipment outside of the fire department headquarters Tuesday morning, April 27, at 55 Cline Ingram Jackson Road in Cedartown in the Detective Kristen Hearne Public Safety Complex.

Jason Shuman, training officer for the fire department, was one of the ones who turned in their equipment at around 11 a.m. He said they had brought other members’ equipment as well, with about 10 in total.

“The fire chief that they fired, Randy Lacey, we’re backing him,” Shuman said. “The way things are starting now and some stuff that’s come out from a meeting that we had here the other day … we’re not happy with the way that things are going now. So we’re just going to turn our stuff in and be done (as) volunteers for Polk County.”

Shuman, who said he had 20 years of service with the department, attempted to make contact with a person inside the headquarters, but no one came to the door. Other firefighters who turned in gear would not provide their name, but said they had been with the department for 10 years or longer.

Shuman said that they would return to the department if Lacey was reinstated.

Polk County Manager Matt Denton released a statement Tuesday afternoon in response to the resignations, saying that it was “most unfortunate.”

“The Polk County Volunteer Fire Department consists of dedicated men and women who serve their community faithfully,” the statement said. “The firefighters who resigned this morning did not quit Polk County Government, they quit the community they served.”

The volunteer fire department has approximately 80 firefighters that serve nine stations throughout the unincorporated areas of Polk County, according to the county’s website, and are required to maintain a minimum level of training each year.

The county commission and administration have looked at ways to possibly have a full paid county fire department in the past but have not had success in pursuing it.

Lacey was fired on April 9 after the county received a copy of a letter from David C. Will, special assistant attorney general representing the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund. In the letter, obtained by the Polk County Standard Journal through an Open Records Request, Will notes that there were inconsistencies when reviewing the required documentation for the county fire department.

“As you know, the fund relies on the affidavits of the chiefs of the volunteer fire departments to confirm that not only did the department/station offer the requisite amount of training, but that the volunteer firefighter who is a member of the fund completed the requisite training and attended the requisite number of fire calls for the year,” the letter states.

“The review of the documentation provided by your department simply does not support the affidavits which you signed and provided to the fund.”

The letter states that Lacey had allowed members of the pension fund to sign documents well after the incident claiming they had attended a fire call and directed others to change records claiming the same.

The letter also states that there has been “a recurring problem” with Lacey and the county fire department in terms of discrepancies with training hours and fire call attendance that have led to some members of the fire department having creditable service under the pension fund revoked.

“As the board of trustees has determined that your affidavits are unreliable, the fund will no longer accept any affidavits signed by you and provided to the fund,” the letter states.

A letter provided through an Open Records Request states that Lacey was fired by the county due to “the severity of the determinations made by the Board of Trustees of the Firefighters Pension Fund.”

Lacey, who was hired by the county in 2011, appealed his dismissal at a county personnel committee meeting on Tuesday, April 20. Denton said he was still waiting on a decision from the personnel committee.

If the personnel committee does not overturn his termination, Lacey could still appeal to the full county commission if he chooses.

Denton said EMA assistant Landon Hendrix is currently handling all EMA issues, while Barry Trammell is acting chief for the volunteer fire department. Trammell had previously served as battalion chief for Station 9 on Lake Creek Road in Cedartown.

Meanwhile, Shuman and the group of firefighters who symbolically quit on Tuesday say they want to see support for the volunteers from the county commissioners.

“I hope it opens their eyes up and they see that we’re backing Lacey 100%, you know, and see where it goes from there,” Shuman said.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED:Polk County Manager Matt Denton released a statement Tuesday afternoon in response to the group of volunteer firefighters and personnel who resigned earlier in the day in response to the dismissal of former EMA Director and Fire Chief Randy Lacey.

“The resignation of certain volunteer firefighters this morning was most unfortunate. The Polk County Volunteer Fire Department consists of dedicated men and women who serve their community faithfully,” the statement said. “The firefighters who resigned this morning did not quit Polk County Government, they quit the community they served.”

PREVIOUSLY POSTED:Members of the Polk County Volunteer Fire Department protesting the recent dismissal of county emergency management director Randy Lacey turned in their gear Tuesday.

Five members of the agency’s command staff placed their firefighting gear outside of the fire department headquarters at 55 Cline Ingram Jackson Road in Cedartown in the Detective Kristen Hearne Public Safety Complex.

Jason Shuman, training officer for the fire department, was one of the ones who turned in their equipment at around 11 a.m. He said they had brought other members’ equipment as well, with about 10 in total and more expected.

“The fire chief that they fired, Randy Lacey, we’re backing him,” Shuman said. “The way things are starting now and some stuff that’s come out from a meeting that we had here the other day … we’re not happy with the way that things are going now. So we’re just going to turn our stuff in and be done with volunteers for Polk County.”

Lacey, who was over the fire department as well as the emergency management agency, was terminated on April 9, according to Polk County Manager Matt Denton. Denton said he would supply further information on his termination soon.

Lacey appealed his dismissal at a county personnel committee meeting on Tuesday, April 20.

Denton said EMA assistant Landon Hendrix is currently handling all EMA issues, while Barry Trammell is acting chief for the volunteer fire department. Trammell had previously served as battalion chief for Station 9 on Lake Creek Road in Cedartown.

Shuman, who said he had 20 years of service with the department, attempted to make contact with a person inside the headquarters, but no one came to the door. Other firefighters who turned in gear would not provide their name, but said they had been with the department for 10 years or longer.

Shuman said that they would return to the department if Lacey was reinstated.

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