Huntington city officials step into HVFD discussion

HUNTINGTON, TX (KTRE) - During the Huntington City Council meeting Tuesday night, city officials let volunteer fire Chief Jerry LaSalle and a member of his board speak about what's going on in the fire department.

LaSalle and a member of his board, who is a known convicted felon, tried to clear up some of the questions surrounding the re-organization of the fire department.

As far as the City of Huntington is concerned, the solution is simple: there will be no convicted felons in the fire department.

City Administrator, Bruce Milstead says felons fighting fires is a liability for the city.

Milstead said, "When it was brought to our attention, that there was convicted felons in the fire department, that is something that the city just cannot be associated with in any shape, form or fashion."

Milstead says fire chief Jerry LaSalle and the city are making progress. LaSalle and Milstead met Wednesday morning where LaSalle said that no felons would be allowed on the fire department anymore, including, the felon known to be on the previous board of directors.

Milstead told KTRE today that, "The person that has a felony conviction of kidnapping and theft has resigned his position from the fire department and from my understanding that he is no longer a part of the board of directors."

Huntington Police Chief, Bobby Epperly was appointed to the fire department board of directors in late December.

Epperly says, "I think the board will be more involved now with the decisions of the fire department then probably what they were in the past."

The City of Huntington made it clear that it does not benefit the city in anyway to have a convicted felon on the fire department or the board of directors.

Milstead said, "We're going to have good people on that fire department. Everyone is going to have a drug test, a background check done and we're going to go on and make this into a fire department that everyone can be proud of."

Epperly says as a board member he is looking for dependable people who are interested in learning how to fight fires and do what's best for the community.

He said, "I'm looking for somebody that's going to be a professional, that's not applying just to get in, be somebody that just to run up and down the road with a light on their car. I want somebody that's going to be interested in learning to fight fire and what's in the best interest for the community."

"I'd like to see the fire department be more like a team," said Epperly. "We have team players on there that's going to be willing to go the extra distance to make sure that things are done right and properly."

Milstead says, "Just because it's volunteer doesn't meant it's not an important position. We need to have squeaky clean people."

Milstead also mentioned that the city has the right to voice their concerns about the fire department even though it is an entity unto itself because they fund the department up to $30,000 and that if these recommendations from the city aren't complied with, the city will have to go another route.

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