[cifnmedia] Scott relieved of top fire post

  • From: "George Mc Grath" <gmcgrath@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Sean Aaron" <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "BRAD DIETRICK" <badleybreak@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2004 08:43:25 -0700

Scott relieved of top fire post
Volunteers vote to remain part of city

By Joe E. Carmean Jr. 
Daily Times Staff Writer 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  

SALISBURY -- Station 2 Volunteer Fire Company members have rescinded their 
decision to secede from the city fire department and have ousted their 
embattled and outspoken president, Harold Scott. 

In a corporate membership meeting held Thursday, members decided -- by a mere 
two-vote margin -- to abandon their fight with the city and adhere to new fire 
department structural changes approved this month by the City Council. 

For more than two years, Station 2 has been involved in one battle after 
another with city officials over control of their operation and ownership of 
vehicles and equipment. The volunteers had split into two factions, with 
tensions running high on both sides. 

John Bartkovich, a Salisbury surgeon who serves as Station 2's vice president, 
said the decisive meeting reflected the tensions on all sides. 

"It was a heated meeting on Thursday," he said, "but I think the station will 
move forward. There are obviously still issues at the station, but the 
membership is hoping to work them out with the city." 

Scott, while still an active member and trustee of Station 2, was replaced by 
Dale Albert, a longtime volunteer and employee of the Wicomico County Roads 
Division. 

"The sense was that the membership did not want to pursue this separation and 
Harold was perceived as wanting to proceed," Bartkovich said Friday. 
"Furthermore, while I am still the spokesman, all comments made to the public 
must be cleared with Mr. Albert from now on." 

Neither Scott nor Albert could be reached for comment Friday. 

Bartkovich said he also supported separation from the city. 

"But I'm also still supportive of Station 2," he said. "They want to work with 
the city and I will do what the membership wants and help them in their 
relations with the city." 

Station 2 leaders had previously opposed changes to the City Charter that gave 
Fire Chief David See greater control over department operations and finances. 
As Bartkovich observed in a July hearing on the changes: "The underlying goal 
of this ordinance is to take total control 
of our corporation, our equipment, our donations and county financial support. 
We can give in, quit or secede." 

Station 2 members voted in mid-August by a two-thirds majority to secede from 
the city. It was the second such attempt -- the first ended with concessions 
made on both sides to solve the disputes. The agreement lasted about six months 
before Station 2 filed two lawsuits against the city and fire chief, one for 
failing to promote one of its members and the other for removing rescue 
equipment from their station without permission. 

Sentiment seemed to switch away from secession in recent days as city officials 
raised questions about how a divided fire service might affect insurance rates. 
Also, Scott became a political lightning rod following charges that he 
threatened a fellow firefighter with a knife. 

City councilman Gary Comegys, a former Station 2 officer, said on Friday he was 
pleased to hear that the volunteers wanted to remain in the city. 

"It's a great move for everyone, especially those citizens who live in their 
fire district," he said. "I think they will be well served. It's one more step 
in unifying this department." 

With any luck, City Council President Mike Dunn said, the Salisbury Fire 
Department can now move forward. 

"This is a positive step," he said. "We're happy. We're thrilled the Station 2 
membership has decided to stay a part of the city fire department." 


a.. Reach Joe E. Carmean Jr. at 410-845-4635 or jcarmean@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

Originally published August 28, 2004

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