Fire Department Faces Upheaval
“You know, they tend to run the risk of hurting people when they’re responding to and from calls,” said Jerry Welch, an inspector for the Tri-Cities Fire Protection District.
He’s also the former Assistant Fire Chief. And says he was demoted after calling out fellow firefighters for breaking safety guidelines.
“Blowing stop signs in excessive speed. Personnel not wearing their seat belt,” Welch said. “Also the wearing of SCBA’s while fighting structure fires.”
SCBA’s are breathing devices.
Welch says he raised concerns to the fire district’s board of directors, a publicly-elected group which oversees the department, and says he specifically spoke to board member Ed Haddock.
Haddock declined to comment.
“We always have safety concerns. But it’s never been brought up before the board,” board member Norman Jantz said.
In fact, when contacted, nearly half of the district firefighters arrived at the station to deny Welch’s allegations.
They say there were issues with Welch’s demeanor as Assistant Chief.
“The attitude that we got from Jerry,” current Assistant Chief Michael Shannon said. “was this is not the Tri-City Fire Department, this is Jerry Welch’s Fire Department.”
“I don’t know how to put it but they just don’t take to Jerry,” Welch said.
But the final decision to demote Jerry Welch came from the Fire Chief, Jerry’s brother, Mike Welch. Who also declined to comment.
“We’re trying to get along with one another and work with one another and do what needs to be done,” Shannon said. “And if that’s where the chief decided to go and take the department then that’s what we’re gonna support.”
But Welch isn’t giving up on his concerns and plans to run for a fire district board position in April.
“So this is all to benefit their safety as well as the people in out community,” Welch said.
Citizens wishing to address any concerns can attend the Tri-Cities Board of Directors meeting, February 9th, at the department in Purcell, MO.