Odenville formally terminates fire chief at meeting
by Gary Hanner
Aug 25, 2010 | 3011 views |  5 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ODENVILLE — The search for a new fire chief will begin after former Chief David Davis was terminated by the mayor.

At Monday’s council meeting, the City Council approved Mayor Rodney “Buck” Christian’s decision to terminate Davis by a 4-0 vote.

The termination follows an incident last month where two premature stillborn fetuses were flushed down a toilet at an Odenville residence.

Christian placed Davis on administrative leave with pay following the July 23 incident, but decided three weeks later to terminate him.

“On Aug. 12, Davis was given a letter of termination by myself in the presence of Mayor Pro-Tem Jimmy Bailey,” Christian said. “In that letter, it plainly stated his right to a due process hearing before the mayor and council.”

Christian said he asked Davis to notify him within seven days if he wanted to pursue the hearing.

“Davis did not notify me within that time frame, therefore waving his right to a due process hearing,” Christian said. “Basically, that means he was terminated as of Aug. 12.”

The mayor terminated Davis based on the Code of Alabama, Section 11-43-160, which states, “Any person appointed to office in an city or town may, for cause, after a hearing, be removed by the officer making the appointment.”

At Monday’s meeting, Christian said a portion of Davis’ letter of termination states that he terminated Davis from his position as fire chief of the Town of Odenville for “conduct detrimental to good order or discipline.”

At an Odenville Council meeting two weeks ago, firefighter/paramedic Jared Wyatt read from a prepared statement in support of Davis and how the fire department wanted him to remain fire chief.

“The guidance, leadership, and dedication he has provided to our department, without question, is second to none. His commitment to our community as a whole is an inspiration to every member, both paid and volunteer. He has given to this town more than can ever be repaid. And the only thing asked in return is to allow him to continue serving our community,” Wyatt read.

Davis, who was not present at the council meeting two weeks ago, did say the following day that he was touched by the outpouring of support.

“The fire department, my guys, you get a bond,” Davis said. “It’s more like a family. I didn’t ask them to do that. When I heard they were doing it, it meant a whole lot to me.”

Davis said there is a lot of love within the fire department.

“We are family and some of the younger volunteers are like my kids,” he said. “Some of the older ones are like my brothers and sisters. It’s a bond, and it’s very hard to explain. I appreciate what they did. I’m sure the mayor and council listened and saw the sincerity on Jared Wyatt’s face.”

St. Clair County Sheriff Terry Surles said after hearing an allegation that two premature infants were disposed of in a toilet, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department started an investigation “by going into the septic tank to recover the bodies.”

Surles said once their investigation is completed, they would turn everything over to the grand jury, which is expected to convene in October.

Two weeks ago, Davis said the day that this incident happened, he and the Regional Paramedical Services, Inc. medic were the only two emergency workers on the scene.

“There were two of us there, and we followed protocol,” Davis said. “We followed the state protocol issued by the medic who was in charge at the scene.”

Christian said the search for a new fire chief would not be a fast process.

“We will search for a new fire chief within the Odenville Fire Department first,” he said.

At Monday’s meeting, Thomas Graves was named acting fire chief by the mayor.

Graves has been with the Odenville Fire Department 6 years and has been a firefighter for 10 years. He also works with the Pell City Fie Department.

When asked how it felt to be named acting fire chief, Graves said he was pleased.

“Pleased they have the confidence in me to know I will do a good job,” Graves said.

Although Davis was not at Monday’s meeting, on Tuesday he said his journey with the Odenville Fire Department has changed directions, because it was for a season, not for a lifetime like he had hoped.

“As Fire Chief, the firefighters and myself have built a strong department,” Davis said. “We have worked hard to make Odenville a better and safer place to call home. We have built a bond, a brotherhood, that most do not understand. It is as strong as a family.

“The firemen and the citizens of Odenville have been amazing to me for the past eight years and my time at Odenville will always hold a special place in my heart that will never be forgotten. God has blessed me with the opportunity to serve Odenville as fire chief and make a tremendous amount of friends that will last the rest of my life.”

Davis said he will deeply miss everyone he has worked with, taught in class and/or interacted with on a daily basis.

“I still live in Odenville and I will always have my friends’ backs whenever they may need me,” he said. “I love all the firefighters, paid and volunteers, of Odenville Fire Department more than they will ever know. For those friendships I will be forever thankful. I would like to thank everyone for their love, support and prayers.

“Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Please continue to pray for the Odenville Fire Department and also my family. God has blessed me beyond my imagination. Thank you Odenville.”

Contact Gary Hanner at ghanner@thestclairtimes.com.

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