Ga. fire chief rescinds resignation after job offer pulled

Chief Chris James had accepted a position as a deputy manager in South Carolina but lost the job offer

The Augusta Chronicle

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Augusta Fire Chief Chris James was rehired by the city Tuesday after losing a job offer in York County, S.C.

James had accepted a position as the county’s deputy manager but lost the job offer, several Augusta Commission members confirmed.

Commissioner Bill Lockett said York officials rescinded the offer after receiving “all this erroneous information” from the Augusta firefighters union.

The commission agreed to take the longtime employee back, voting 7-3 to rescind James’ resignation and severance package, which included six months’ salary and unused vacation pay.

Mayor Pro Tem Grady Smith and commissioners Sean Frantom and Wayne Guil­foyle opposed the motion.

After James scored the job in York County, the Augusta Professional Fire­fighters Association spoke out about his decision to buy $6 million in KME-brand “prototype” fire trucks that are requiring frequent repairs.

The city last year terminated a purchase contract with KME before completing the order, while the problematic trucks remain under a five-year warranty for service.

York County Manager Bill Shanahan, who knew James from his time as deputy city administrator in Augusta, referred questions about the matter to James.

James did not return a call seeking comment.

The firefighters union, which pushed the truck issue despite James’ accepting a new job, was not surprised by the announcement.

“We thought all along that York, S.C., elected officials were going to do their homework and be smarter than that,” association President Lynn Mas­ters said.

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