The Winn Parish Police Jury (the Jury) met in a special called meeting Thursday, April 22, 2021. The sole item on the agenda was to discuss issues regarding the Winn Parish Fire Board (the Board).
Winn Parish Police Jury President Josh McAllister started the meeting by stating that he received calls from fire board members with concerns that morale is very low at Winn Parish Fire District 3 (District 3).
District 3 Chief Harry Foster addressed the Jury with concerns about morale at the fire district. According to Foster, moves by the Winn Parish Fire Board have created a toxic environment at District 3.
Foster outlined that recent issues include some board members wanting to cut back to having one person on duty. “We could do it, but fire protection would be slim to none. You can imagine how depressing it is for the full-time fire personnel not to know if they have a job or not,” said Foster. One person on duty is unsafe; the very minimum you would need is four, and that’s just marginally safe, explained Foster. With the Board continually suggesting that we cut back full-time employees, people don’t know if they will have a job or not, and morale is down.
The fire district currently has four full-time personnel: Chief Foster and three full-time firemen/firewomen, and 13 part-time employees. There are three people on duty Monday – Friday from 8 AM – 8 PM, from 8 PM – 8 AM every day of the week; two people are on duty. There are two people on duty 8 AM – 8 PM Saturday & Sunday.
Some fire personnel works 24 or even 48-hour shifts to ensure that shifts are covered. However, it’s increasingly difficult to get people to work extra shifts with the current morale conditions, explained Foster.
Adding to the morale issues is a situation last year when the Board striped two employees of rank and a pay raise they had had for two years. Stripping rank and pay was not due to any fault of the employees but because the Board disagreed with how the employees were given the promotions.
Foster also stated that one employee quit outright earlier this year, saying that “he just couldn’t take the environment any longer.” Issues with this particular employee stemmed from vacation pay that the Board refused to pay.
“The firemen/firewomen and the citizens of Winn Parish deserve better; we need help,” said Foster
Other concerns Foster outlined:
- Need more volunteers
- Need more training
- Need more safety equipment
The Winn Parish Fire District 3 Board consists of seven members. Three appointed by the Jury and four appointed by the four villages in the parish. The current board members are:
Calvin appointee – Ronald O’Bryan – term expired 12/31/2020 (still on Board)
Dodson appointee – John Holden – term expired 12/31/2020 (still on Board)
Sikes appointee – Buddy King – term expires 12/31/2021
Atlanta appointee- Open at time of the meeting
Appointed by Jury 1 – Bill Thompson – newly appointed in 2021
Appointed by Jury 2 – Mark John – term expires 12/31/2021
Appointed by Jury 3 – Brad Cooper – newly appointed in 2020
The Jury has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, May 6, 2020, at 6 PM, where the Board members will speak to the Jury.
To read previous stories regarding the Winn Parish Fire District 3 Board click below.