Scott Beu, right, was allowed to air his complaints before the WVFD board Monday, May 9. Listening to Beu were (l to r) Board Member Kyle Stephenson; Board President Darrell Crymes; WVFD Chief Ronny Fite; and WVFD Capt. John Hargis. Leader Staff Photo/Don Treul
Listening to Beu were (l to r) Board Member Kyle Stephenson; Board President Darrell Crymes; WVFD Chief Ronny Fite; and WVFD Capt. John Hargis.
Beu authored a petition calling for the election of department leadership, specifically replacing Chief Ronny Fite, Assistant Chief Darrell Crymes and J.L. Hayes, who holds an honorary position of Second Assistant Chief.
said Monday that a firefighter may remain on probation for a variety of reasons.
A firefighter who signed Beu's petition, for example, decided to pursue a career as an emergency medical technician/paramedic and was unable to regularly attend the WVFD meetings, so he
remains on probation.
After Crymes addressed each of the points of contention in the petition, Fite
asked for a show of hands of any of the WFVD firefighters who wished to have their names removed from the petition.
One of the claims in Beu's petition was that after Fite resigned from his position as Whitehouse city manager in the fall of 2009, he started paying himself for the chief position before board members approved his salary of
Minutes of meetings that were approved at Monday's meeting indicated that the WVFD
board, not Fite
, approved the chief's salary and effective hiring date.
Kyle Stephenson, a member of the board, said the board originally discussed paying Fite instead for mileage used for WVFD business, but the department likely would not be able to afford the generally accepted amount paid for mileage and agreed to the one tank of fuel per month stipend instead.
Some of the firefighters who said they were informed by the petition that Fite
may have been in violation of the law regarding the assertions of him setting his
own salary, said they were quite satisfied with the board's explanation Monday.
The board, however, approved the minutes Monday and repeatedly informed Beu that the decision regarding Fite's salary and monthly fuel stipend was their decision, not Fite's, and that the decision was made before Fite was hired as chief.
said firefighters who work at the WVFD
receive frequent in-house training and have the option of attending additional training at Texas A&M University
twice each year.
"We have a great training program, period," Fite
said the department even paid for Beu to attend the firefighter's academy.
said Crymes spent countless hours volunteering his time without compensation helping with the new facilities.
Fite, who has been working with the WVFD for 40 years, Crymes and many of the firefighters expressed shock that Beu was pressing to remove J.L. Hayes, who has been with the WVFD since 1957.
After the board determined that the petition was not valid under the bylaws, Fite
said WVFD firefighters have been and will continue to be able to approach him about any concern and problem.
said if they do not agree with his
opinion or decision, they also may approach any of the board members since, as he
said, they are his
Regarding Beu assertions that the public lacks confidence in the WVFD
leadership or regarding the WVFD responding to calls, Fite
has a quality fire department.
"They do not have to worry about the fire department responding to serve them," he