SUMMERDALE - The Town of Summerdale is set to adopt a new Fire Department Ordinance during its Aug. council meeting on Monday, Aug. 12. The new ordinance comes after the previous fire chief and assistant fire chief were removed from their respective positions in early June due to low morale and an insufficient number of volunteers, causing emergency calls to go unanswered. Mayor David Wilson discussed the issue with the council, deciding to act and begin revamping the volunteer fire department.
“I took it on as the mayoral authority to do the dismissing that we did in the fire department, and since that date we’ve had many people who have shown interest in being a member of the Summerdale Volunteer Fire Department,” Wilson said. “I understand some of the firemen that had previously left our department have now come back or want to return.”
Woody Kicklighter has been appointed interim chief and Derrick Givens appointed interim assistant chief until the time when the volunteer fire department has enough members to perform an official election. Agreements are in place with surrounding municipalities who have offered their assistance while Summerdale rebuilds its department.
“We’re not starting from scratch, we’ve got a good group of people that are willing to work hard for the rebuilding of the department,” said Wilson. He is using a templet from the Alabama League of Municipalities to create new bylaws for the department. The current bylaws haven’t been updated since 1987. An ordinance has been drafted for the new volunteer fire department and is being looked over by the council and the temporary authorities in the department.
“We’ve been working closely with the fire department to help it grow under the new management, and we’re up to nine members now,” said Wilson. “We’ve received copies of the bylaws from the Foley and Daphne departments to look over, and will discuss new bylaws and the ordinance at a special workshop with the fire department in August.”
As part of the revamping, a meeting was held with an ISO inspector concerning the Summerdale Volunteer Fire Department, rating the water system in town as well as response times and teams.
“The largest issue that they saw was when there’s a structure fire they want to see at least four of the town’s firemen respond and if they don’t, that’s a major red flag,” said Public Works Director Lee Irwin. “There were several incidents in the past where there were only three who responded, or no one from our department at all. The other issue was that of training documentation. We can’t go back and fix the past, but we can fix things moving forward.”
The current fire chief and assistant chief have received copies of the ISO officer’s list of concerns, and it is their understanding that there will be no penalties from anything during the prior leadership. They are working towards correcting the concerns in the future.
“The fire department has not missed a call since they came under new management, and I feel like we’re going to have one of the best fire departments that could ever be as we move forward,” Wilson said.