In a specially called meeting Thursday, the Long County Board of Commissioners hired Hinesville firefighter Chris Moss as the new part-time fire chief in a split vote of 3-2.
In separate split votes, the commissioners also terminated one officer, suspended two more and accepted the resignation letter from an officer that was sent to them in July.
Moss replaces Mark Deverger, who was hired less than a month ago to replace Chief Richard Truman, who retired. Deverger stayed in the position for only three weeks before stepping down on Sept. 11.
According to information provided by the commissioners’ office, Moss has been a firefighter with the Hinesville Fire Department for 17 years. He is a shift captain and is certified as a public life-safety educator, wildland firefighter, an arson investigator and a fire instructor. Moss currently works a shift of 24 hours on at Hinesville, and then is off for 48 hours.
According to board Chairman Dwight Gordon, Moss will continue to work for Hinesville and serve as the fire chief for Long County on his days off. Gordon said that a part-time assistant chief also will be hired at the L/LCFD to work on the days that Moss is in Hinesville.
“People have been calling me concerned about the fire protection in the county. I think going ahead and hiring Chris was the best thing for the community,” Gordon said.
Gerald Blocker, Willie Thompson and Gordon voted to hire Moss, while Vice Chairman Cliff DeLoach and Robert Long voted in opposition.
“I want to let it be known that I have no problem with Chris, but there are other things that we have been putting off that needed to be taken care of before we hired or fired anybody,” Long said.
Moss’ salary and compensation packet had not been determined as of Friday.
By the same 3-2 vote, the commission voted to fire Assistant Chief of Operations Shawn Smith and suspend Capt. James Ashdown Jr. and Lt. Mary Butler. Gordon declined to comment on why Smith was fired and the two firefighters were suspended, citing that they were personnel issues.
Though Long did not comment on the suspensions, he did discuss Smith’s termination from the department.
“I believe it was personal, personal between Dwight and Gerald Blocker against Shawn,” Long said. “I told the both of them that they were a big part of the problem that we have with the fire department right now.”
By the same split vote, the commission approved accepting a resignation letter from Assistant Chief of Training Randy Combs. Combs submitted the letter July 24, but the commission had not accepted it, so he had remained with the fire department.
Gordon also discussed the recent resignation of Deverger, saying that Deverger said there were many problems at the L/LCFD.
“He said that there was a lot of turmoil at the fire department and, in his words, a lot of trouble that he couldn’t correct,” Gordon said.
Long agreed with Gordon, but said the problems were not just at the fire department.
“I went in there on Thursday and told them that we should have sat down a long time ago and decided what we were going to do with the fire department,” Long said. “There is some problems at the fire department, but there are also problems with the commissioners. Both sides are wrong.”