Resignations leave SVFD without crew
Mar 27, 2012 (The Deming Headlight - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Sunshine Volunteer Fire Department is down to one member, the newly-appointed chief, following a mass resignation of volunteers.
Darwin Williams, who in the 2012 Village of Columbus Municipal Elections, was appointed to the position. That position was left vacant by the resignation of former chief Roderick Byrne.
"The community out in the county will be protected," Mark Jasso, county emergency services director, said. "We want to start a very, very rigorous recruitment process to get people interested and to even let people know we exist."
The rest of the volunteers, many of whom are related to Byrne, resigned over the weekend, effectively forcing the county to redesign the county fire districts to cover gaps.
"When I first took over the departments they had a staff of 15," he said. "I learned later he only had a staff of like six people and they were all pretty much his family."
A specific reason for the resignations was not given, but Jasso said he has been hearing lots of rumors and seen posts made on Facebook indicating a walk-off was planned. In response to the looming resignations, Florida, Savoy and Cookes Peak volunteer departments met to create a plan to help cover the Sunshine district while it regains strength and numbers.
Luna County manager Kelly Kuenstler said in a press release that she plans to "step up the professionalism and accountability" in the volunteer fire departments with Jasso's appointment to his current position.
Chief Williams hails from 19 years of work in law enforcement and fire fighting in Michigan, the county says.
"His leadership, management and organizational skills were attributes the committee was most impressed with, in addition to the fact that he is a veteran of the United States Air Force," Kuenstler said of Chief Williams.
Sunshine VFD is located at 65 Sunshine Road south of Deming. Florida Mountain VFD is located east of town just off Highway 549 near the Adobe Deli Restaurant. The Savoy VFD is located west of the city on Highway 418 near the travel center. Cookes Peak VFD is located north of town off Highway 26 on Tulip Dr. NE.
The city of Deming operates a full-time, paid fire department that responds to all structure fires in the county alongside the district's respective department. The village of Columbus also operates fire and emergency medical services departments.
Matt Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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