Residents not happy about township's decision to ax fire chief - WNEM TV 5

Residents not happy about township's decision to ax fire chief

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Emotions and outrage ruled Tuesday night's board meeting in Richland Township. Most of the residents, including many firefighters, packed into town hall to clearly say they're not happy.

"Do you people not care about our safety as much as we care about these people?" asked veteran firefighter Jason Baird.

"I think the motive question, what is the secret agenda you have going on? We cannot figure it out," stated one resident.

The controversy stems from the firing of longtime Fire Chief Gary Wade. Council members voted to get rid of Wade last month after their evaluation determined he was doing an unsatisfactory job and their view that he didn't have the ability to clearly communicate with township leadership.

"Why didn't he just cooperate with us? He's probably just chief if he cooperates, but he didn't!" said council member Joel Wardin.

"I think the board made the decision that it was in the best interest of the township. Moving forward, I hope that it is," said township supervisor Brian Frederick.

"Your evaluation of us isn't anything, but how do we get rid of you? How do we go about doing that?" asked another resident.

Jodi Wegner, whose husband was Richland Township's assistant fire chief who resigned after Wade was fired, said she thinks the decision was based on personal vendettas between the chief and some of the board members.

"Because he wasn't a yes man, and he knew his job, and they didn't like that. They couldn't pull anything off on him, and they didn't like that," said Wegner.

Wade couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday night. However, when he was fired last month, he told TV5 the board will have to live with its decision.

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