City Leaders Micromanage Fire Department with Disastrous Results

I want to thank our first responders for the effort and sacrifices they make to keep our city safe. I wish they were not pulled into politics and there was no need for posts like this. 

This year, like last, I had no choice but to vote against passing the city’s budget.  During budget discussions, an unexpected, last-minute amendment was added by the mayor and two other commissioners. To the disbelief of myself, Commissioner Justice, and the fire chief, this would require the new Assistant Fire Chief to be hired from internal staff only.  This politically charged requirement creates several issues.  First, not one of our existing staff meets the requirements for the position.  We have an excellent staff of dedicated firefighters, but we also have a young department.  The second issue would be limiting the pool of candidates to 21 people.  Our department is much smaller than other departments in comparably sized cities.

  Lebanon Spring Hill LaVergne Mt. Juliet
Max Shift Staffing 21 20 16 7

Many of you remember the position cuts in last year's budget.  These cuts could not have come at a worse time.  Seven months after the budget passed, the city was hit by the worst disaster in its history when a devastating tornado ripped through our city on March 3rd.  It should come as no surprise that cutting the volunteer fire department coordinator months before would result in a significant loss of volunteers.  The very volunteer program that afforded Mt. Juliet the ability to operate with a smaller paid staff felt the impact of the losses. When last year's budget passed, we had 23 active volunteers. We now only have 12 active volunteers.  Thanks to the micromanagement of a few politicians when the sky fell on March 3rd, the Mt. Juliet Fire Department was at its lowest staffing ever!

  Paid Staffing Volunteer Staffing
June 2019 24 23
June 2020 22 12

This year’s budget included a new assistant fire chief position to replace the two positions lost in last year's budget.  While this change would cost the taxpayers 18% more than the previous model, it is very needed.  However, unless the qualifications for the position are lowered, or the internal-only hiring requirement is removed, the position cannot be filled.  The internal hiring requirement for the position is now the law! Not policy, but city law! It will take the action of the board of commissioners to change the law so the position can be opened to external applicants.  It is very important for everyone to understand the political games that are being played with you and your family’s safety.  The only way these types of continued political games stop is if you the voters to demand it.


Send a clear message!  Stop playing games with public safety!


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