ELDORADO — Eldorado Fire Department has a new chief — Marlon Hart — following the resignation of former Fire Chief Tom Evans and most of the department’s firefighters.
The firefighters who resigned have found a new home with the West Manchester Fire Department.
According to former Chief Evans, the decision to resign from Eldorado’s Fire Department was not made lightly and was made freely by all the firefighters. They felt excluded from department business by the council and Mayor Tiana White, he said.
“There were meetings concerning the merger part of it, that we were told we couldn’t be at, because the council felt intimidated by our presence. All we ever did was show support — that is what we were there for,” Evans said.
“In our opinion, there was a personal agenda by a couple council members, one being a former fire department chief and another being an inactive member of the department. They didn’t want to see things changed and in today’s day and age, things have to change — they have to progress with the times.
“We have extrication equipment that we were using that was purchased in the mid-1980s. We do maintain everything the best we can, but the equipment was outdated. With the vehicles out today, the performance wasn’t there to cut into some of those vehicles. You’re talking about a lifesaving piece of equipment — to me that is a high priority.
“With things like that, we felt we were being stonewalled and it was aggravating to everybody on the department. We held several meetings with the membership to discuss [our actions]. It wasn’t done lightly by any means, because you’re talking a lot of time invested for nothing — no pay, no benefits, it was just to help the community. That is what we are still about.
“You don’t work at a place that you’re not valued for what you do, because there is somebody out there that will [appreciate you]. It just got to that point.”
According to Evans, he mentioned the potential of the department resigning prior to the decision. Instead of working with the department on relations, he said Mayor White reached out to Hart to see if he would be interested in filling the position of Chief if Evans did resign.
Evans was disappointed in that decision and felt like it should have been addressed prior to the department resigning.
Now, the Eldorado Fire Department has five members staffed and several former Eldorado firefighters have found a new home with West Manchester Fire Department.
“They had their doors wide open to bring us in, certified firefighters. We’re still serving both communities and the entire township. It really is business as usual,” Evans said. “It is kind of a no-brainer the way it needs to go. You can’t have two fire departments and a rescue squad in one township and not have change within that.”
While he may no longer be chief of Eldorado Fire Department, Evans still believes the merger with West Manchester is the way for the village to go. To him, the merger would save time and money for the department — while also bringing additional volunteers into the village.
“I hope [the merger] is not dead. I hope somewhere down the line and soon, eyes are opened and people can finally understand. If it be a change in the council, as far as membership, to make that happen, I hope it is. It is the best benefit for this area to provide this service,” Evans said.
“I wish things had turned out differently, I really do. I put a lot of years into the Eldorado Fire Department — it was the hardest decision in my life to walk away from it. It was not done lightly.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH