Petition protests Upstate fire chief’s removal

SPARTANBURG COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – An Upstate fire chief will not return to a role he’s served in for decades. Now an online petition is protesting the decision by the Glendale fire department’s commission. The commission voted against renewing the contract for long-time chief Robert Brown Sr.

Click to read online petition

“Our family has a combined 185 years of volunteer service,” said Brown’s son, Robert Brown Jr., who volunteers as the department’s assistant chief. “He’s only the second chief the Glendale community has ever had.”

Robert Brown, Sr. (Photo Courtesy: Family)

Brown says after 58 years of service and 42 years as chief it’s sad to know the department’s commission voted against renewing the chief’s contract after Brown says he offered to retire in December.

“We’re devastated,” he said. “The board rejected that date on a split vote and voted to retire him June 30th 2017 also on a 3-2 vote.”

He says the chief resigned last week and two of five commissioners have also resigned in protest, including Michael Royal who said he is concerned about the department’s future.

“I felt it was in very poor taste and I felt like it was a very hasty decision that was made,” Royal said. “To have a department that’s run like Glendale Fire Department has been run and stayed and budget and has really an impeccable record 30, 40, 50 years is an asset to any community.”

Brown says he’ll continue volunteering his service.

“The man in me wanted to walk away from that kind of leadership,” Brown said. “But the spirit in me of my Creator and the humanness in me is what are holding me here.”

One of the board members Mike Watkins voted to support the chief’s removal. He tells 7 News the chief has done a good job over the years but commissioners want to move in a new direction. Watkins did not want to elaborate on what a “new direction” means.

The department is hosting a meeting to discuss its budget on Wednesday, June 28th starting at 7 p.m. at Glendale Fire Department Station 1.

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