Tuttle Volunteer Firefighters Want Fired Fire Chief Reinstated
By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9
TUTTLE, Oklahoma -- Volunteers with the Tuttle fire department are fired up over the firing of the city's fire chief.
Fire Chief Gerald Cook was let go back in February after 26 years with the city. Since then, volunteers have been working to have him reinstated but with no luck.
Cook said he was fired for "insubordination," but he thinks there's more to it than that.
"I was just wanting to keep the city out of trouble for liability, and I guess I asked too many questions," Cook said.
Cook said he questioned a city ordinance involving fire protection because he had concerns about charging citizens for calls made outside of city limits, as well as limiting the number of firefighters on medical calls.
"I'm not against change. I made a lot when I took over, but whenever they're going directly against our ordinance then, I've got a problem. I spoke up and this is where it got me," Cook said.
Larry Steverson is a volunteer firefighter and said he has been talking with his neighbors and city council members trying to get the chief back on the job.
"When a new guy comes in and he's able to remove on a notice on a Friday afternoon a 26 year employee, that's a shame," Steverson said.
Tim Young is Tuttle's City manager and has been on the job for 19 months. He said there were deeper issues involved in letting the chief go, and now he wants the support of volunteer firefighters.
"We're dedicated to working with them to get over this and look forward to the new fire chief being hired and moving forward as a community," Young said. "There's always two sides to every story and of course there are stories you can't release due to privacy issues."
But Cook maintained he was just putting the City of Tuttle first.
"The main thing is I want people to know I did not resign. I was terminated for what I felt was right in the best interests of the city," Cook said.
Cook was the fire chief for seven years. He said he's considering legal action against the city since he was just five years away from retirement. Young said if that happens, he's confident in the city's position.
The city council held a meeting a few weeks ago to listen to the concerns of firefighters and other city employees. However, no action was taken, and applications are currently being accepted for the position.