Manchester fire chief feels heat from city is undeserved - WSMV Channel 4

Manchester fire chief feels heat from city is undeserved

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Manchester Fire Chief George DeShields Manchester Fire Chief George DeShields

A Middle Tennessee fire chief says he has no complaints against him, yet he feels some city leaders are trying to force him out.

Firefighting is a family tradition for Manchester Fire Chief George DeShields.

"My father was a volunteer firefighter," he said. "I started as a volunteer at age 15. I used to run to the fire station because I couldn't drive."

After 30 years, the decorated fireman still doesn't mind getting his hands dirty, such was the case when he heard a two-vehicle crash come across his scanner Tuesday afternoon.

DeShields has only been chief of Manchester a little more than a year and says he has made changes to better the department.

"Tradition is to be respected, and like one of my firefighters said, change is to be explored," he said.

DeShields says he doesn't understand why a select group of city aldermen wants him fired.

"Nobody has given me a reason. I was contacted last week that four aldermen had gotten together and wanted to fire me," he said.

Alderwoman Roxanne Patton says she is still trying to make sense of why some of her colleagues are out to get the chief.

"Our department heads can't function if they are worried about their jobs. It's not right," Patton said.

She says she has no problem with what DeShields is doing to move the fire department forward.

"He wants things done right. He's by the book. He's added a lot of training," she said.

Sources tell Channel 4 News that Aldermen Russell Bryan, Tim Pauley and Cheryl Swan met in private at Bryan's home on Monday night, and photos appear to show their vehicles outside.

Bryan's nephew, who is a fire captain, was also in attendance, according to sources.

Some are wondering if the group violated the Sunshine Law by meeting in private.

"There's a lot of talk in the community about this vote. It's an emotional topic for a lot of people. Whether or not they discussed that issue or not, it certainly looks bad to have a meeting like that," said Vice Mayor Ryan French.

DeShields' personnel file includes several commendations and no complaints. He even received fours and fives on his performance evaluation, which exceeds the standards set forth by the city.

The fire chief was due to receive two additional commendations during a board of aldermen meeting on Tuesday night.

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