Hall Sparks Controversy with Fire Police Question

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Last Thursday the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners workshop was winding down to a close. After nearly two and a half hours the discussion agenda was complete. The next item was to adjourn but not before Post 2 Commissioner, Danny Hall asked EMA director and Gilmer County Fire Chief Tony Pritchett about what he called the

“Fire Police.”

Hall said he had received several calls about fire department personnel carrying weapons. This statement set off a firestorm of questions and discussion around the room that continued for over thirty minutes.

In 2010 former Chairman, Mark Chastain passed a resolution allowing the EMA-Fire Chief to have arson investigation authority. J.C. Sanford, who was previously a Post Commissioner, supported the resolution. This gives arrest power to state mandated personnel of the fire department. The fire department has four mandated personnel on staff at this time.

As Pritchett answered questions it became clear this was an issue that needed to be resolved with the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office. It appeared to have created friction with the Sheriff’s office. Hall asked for a public meeting. Randy Bell, Post 1 Commissioner, quickly supported a public meeting between Sheriff Stacy Nicholson and Pritchett. Chair Commissioner Sanford quickly said


Sanford requested an executive session to which county attorney David Clark interjected that the meeting could not be executive session. Clark commented the he had also been approached with questions about this subject as well. Clark went on to say that he too felt it would be best to have a public meeting.

Sanford would have no part of a public meeting. He felt that it should be held behind closed doors and that a public meeting would only aggravate the problem. Even after several citizens, Clark, Bell and Hall all suggested a public meeting to resolve this matter Sanford still refused.

A meeting is scheduled Tuesday between Sanford, Pritchett and Nicholson. The time and location of the meeting are unknown.

Below is the full thirty minute discussion of the meeting.

Click below, must see video.


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