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Posted on Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

Vote that would have given Chelsea fire board more power deemed invalid

By John Counts

Thumbnail image for Chelsea_fire_station.jpg

Chelsea Area Fire Authority

This article has been corrected. Jamie Bollinger and John Francis voted for the resolution, not against it as originally reported.

The Chelsea Area Fire Authority Board's 2-1 vote that would have given it more say in personnel matters has been deemed invalid, Board Chairman Rod Anderson said.

The two board members who abstained -- Craig Maier and Kurt Kosek -- did so against the rules, officials said.

Maier said he didn't cast a vote because he didn't believe there had been enough discussion about the resolution, which would have given the board more power when it comes to hiring and firing, which is right now at the sole discretion of Fire Chief Jim Payeur. Kosek had a similar reason, according to Maier.

“Things got a little hectic in that meeting… we didn’t have the opportunity to have further discussion on it,” Maier said.

The vote took place at the board's regular meeting Tuesday.

The two abstentions did not meet legal requirements, however, and the resolution is now invalid, making its future uncertain. Anderson, who voted against the resolution, said he wasn't sure if it would be on the agenda at the board's next meeting on May 21.

“I think it’s something we have to address,” Anderson said, adding he might vote differently on the issue next time if the board modifies the resolution.

Two or three years ago, the board fully vested the chief's position with all hiring and firing matters, Anderson said.

Maier said the board wanted to reconsider due to the financial impacts such decisions might have.

Anderson said the invalidated vote is just one more chapter in a long road starting with the passing of a millage that seemed to call for a reduction of the department, which prompted four of the firefighters to try unionizing. That was voted down 7-4 in January, Anderson said.

What many of the firefighters didn't seem to realize was if taxable values went up — thus increasing funds — no one would have to be let go. When the board formed a committee to speak individually with firefighters to communicate this — and to get feedback to update the department's handbook and standard operating procedures — firefighters began making allegations against one another, Anderson said.

Some of the firefighters felt threatened, officials said.

“The interviews became … very adversarial,” said Anderson.

Both Anderson and Maier conceded the resolution to give the board more power was directly related to these issues in the department, which remain unsettled.

Jamie Bollinger and John Francis voted for the resolution. They could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could Kosek.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Twink Twice

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 4 p.m.

Chelsea Area Fire Authority Board is having a special meeting today, Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013. The meeting is at 4:00 PM at the Chelsea Fire Station located at 200 W. Middle Street, Chelsea, MI 48118. It would be good to come and see what is really happening and being said. The meeting will start as an open meeting with a public forum. Comments from the public will be heard.

Big Dog

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 11:03 a.m.

Curious. Why was it necessary to speak to the fire fighter "individually"? What guarantees each fire fighter is getting the same information. The Authority should have held a meeting with all the fire fighters to explain their motives or other plans for the fire department.


Sat, Apr 20, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

Piney Guy Us "Local Professionals" built this profession long before you needed to pick curly hairs from your teeth or buy some overpriced art to stare at after you smoke down. We have been where Chelsea boys are now and support them thoroughly, you dig?


Sat, Apr 20, 2013 : 5:04 a.m.

@mifd. There ya go. Miffed that the Chief knows more about Fire Administration than you do; go ahead and call in yer local family politicians! Firefighting is a profession; not a hobby. Dig? Ask the brothers in Waco. Go ahead and play small town "politics" with yer "brothers." Have a "Pancake Breakfast" to raise money. Party On dude! Ya won't ken the Big Bad Wolf until you go on a Real Run . . .


Sat, Apr 20, 2013 : 3:56 a.m.

O. K. Now I get it. Even though Chelsea firefighters are highly trained and the "money trail" is transparent (meaning openly documented to the public), some pinch-pennies that somehow insinuated themselves into the political process, seek to obtain "tax savings" by putting the Chelsea population at risk. Remember folks, the Number One mission of a Fire Department is Not to "put out fires." The Number One mission is to enter burning buildings and Save Lives! Dig? The Number Two mission is to Prevent Fires by a rigorous program of Building Inspection. The Number Three mission is to Put Out Fires. Simple. Firefighting 101. What's up with the Chelsea community that you tolerate "politics with the Fire Barn." Are yins Littleheads ? ? ?


Sat, Apr 20, 2013 : 3:46 a.m.

Could someone out in Western Washtenaw clue me in? Are the Real Lawyers running this show? Or are the would-be kitchen table "lawyers" are in charge? Please understand that a house on fire is a fearsome thing to encounter.