Lumberton leaders at odds over fire department

By: Jeff Daley -  Email

LUMBERTON, MS (WDAM) - Controversy continues to surround the Lumberton city government as a power struggle between Mayor Larry Strahan and the town's Volunteer Fire department continues.

At Tuesday night's Board of Aldermen meeting, Strahan asked the board to rescind the town's contract with the fire department and approve a revised contract he had drawn up.

Strahan explained he had told the department he wasn't happy with the way they were maintaining the city-owned fire station and equipment.

"I went over there and asked them if they would clean the office, and they said you don't have any authority over here," said Strahan.

The current contract states the city has no right or authority over the fire department and will not direct or supervise any member.  In the revised contract - the wording was removed by Strahan and replaced, giving the Mayor and the board the authority to appoint a board of directors to govern the department.

The new contract also called for the board to appoint a city fire marshal who would report back to the board on the condition of the facilities, equipment, and facilities and records on a monthly basis.

The other main change involved setting a flat $1,000 monthly fee from the city to the department to cover operational expenses.  In turn, no salary, fire call or training fees would be paid.

Aldermen Quincy Rogers and Stanley Rayborn expressed concern over how the proposed changes could affect the quality of fire protection in the city.

"We don't need to be pissing the fire department off; I hope your houses don't catch fire," said Rogers. " If it's not broke, don't fix it."

As the heated discussion dragged on, Aldermen Terry Cannaday became frustrated with the proceedings and walked out of the meeting.

The board took no action on the contract.