Beginning July 1, 2014, the Yatesville Fire Department will have a new Chief and Assistant Chief. After 11 years as Chief, Ronnie Riggins is stepping down, and in his place, the Yatesville City Council has appointed Billy Lee to serve as Chief, and Shane Moore as Assistant Chief. The action came at their council meeting Monday night.
Mayor Cecil Moncrief noted that Riggins is the sixth Chief the department has had in the last 40 years. Moncrief, who is also a former Chief of the fire department, asked the council for suggestions for Chief and Assistant Chief.
Riggins, who is also a member of the City Council, recommended Billy Lee for the position of Chief, noting that he felt the Chief did not need to be on the City Council.
“It is odd to me, but it just happened to work out that every Chief since the fire department has existed has been a council member. But, since I’ve been Chief and been on the council at the same time, I’ve often found myself sitting here at this table in conflict with myself, because I was asking for something for the fire department that I was Chief of, and at the same time I was asking it as a council member. So I often found myself in conflict,” Riggins said. “I never really said anything about it, but it was there. So, in my opinion, it seems like it would be better if the Chief was not a member of the council.
“So my recommendation is Billy Lee. He’s been my Assistant Chief ever since I’ve been Chief, and he’s what I always called my negotiator. If you want to get the best price on something, let Billy take care of it. “
Shane Moore, who won the special election to fill the remaining term of the late Elmer Kent on the council, was attending his first meeting as a council member Monday night. Riggins went on to recommend Moore as Assistant Chief.
Mayor Moncrief agreed with Riggins’ recommendations.
“Billy has been one of the most faithful members of the fire department since I’ve been around,” Moncrief said. “When I was Chief he was there, and he can really go get it. He knows a lot about it and has had a lot of training.
“I don’t think it is a requirement that you be on the council to be Chief, it just started out that way,” the mayor added. “Roy Hicks started the fire department as the first Chief, and he just happened to be on the council. They just kept appointing on down from there.”
Council member Phyl Gatlin made a motion to appoint Billy Lee as Chief and Shane Moore as Assistant Chief, effective July 1, 2014. Wanda Dozier seconded the motion and it was approved 5-0.
Riggins said after the vote that he is just stepping down, not leaving the fire department.
“I’ll be there for a few more years,” Riggins said. “I’ve gotten too old to be on the business end of that fire hose, but I don’t feel like I’m too old to get the truck there and operate the pump. My days of going into a burning house are over with. “
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.