Augusta’s fire chief is back on the job and back in the line of fire.
Augusta commissioners voted to rehire Chris James Wednesday night, one week after he resigned to take a new job in York County, South Carolina. However, York County withdrew the offer.
Now, James is facing accusations from, The Augusta Professional Fire Fighters Association. The Association says Chief Chris James misused $6 million city dollars by purchasing cheap, problem plagued KME fire trucks.
News Channel 6’s Margaret-Ann Carter spoke exclusively with the union’s former president about the Chief’s actions.
“I just know what the man told me and I’m just telling you what he told me,” Lt. Randy Reese with Augusta Fire Department said.
Lt. Randy Reese was President of the Augusta Professional Fire Fighters Association during that time, and says that’s not the case.
“When we talked about the KME trucks on the bidding process, there was also people on the committee that wanted certain things written up for certain vendors, chief made it clear that it was going to be open to any vendor that wanted to put in,” Reese explained.
Reese says during the bidding process he didn’t receive any complaints from anyone on the committee.
When the KME trucks arrived the trucks immediately started having problems.
Reese says he went to James about the issue and James contacted KME, KME told him they would fix the trucks.
“In that same conversation the chief also stated that he felt like, that he was not going to get any more machines from the company, because of the problems it was having, and that he was going to take it to the commission not to buy the remaining fire machines,” he said.
As a long time member of the Fire Department and union, Reese says he’s put in a tough place, but he wants people to know the truth about what happened while he was President.
“What I want the fire department to understand, and even the union, that we’re a department and anything that goes against the department makes us look bad, and that we’re supposed to be here for the public,” Reese said.
Since stepping down as President of the Fire Department union, Reese says he hasn’t been made aware of any other actions the board has taken and he doesn’t want to comment on other accusations.