Clearwater Fire Department under fire

By: Lynnsey Gardner Email
By: Lynnsey Gardner Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, July 13, 2007

CLEARWATER, S.C.---The Clearwater Fire Department is under fire today after a heated meeting Tuesday night (July 10).

14 of the district's 16 firefighters walked out on the job, including the chief himself.

The fire seems to just be getting started as tensions continue to grow and allegations are being thrown about like wildfire.

Meanwhile, a fire department sits in wait. Right now Clearwater Fire Department is not answering its own emergency calls.

The Chief, Les Hembelten, says it's a problem with Clearwater's Special Water District commissioner Terry Overstreet and his micromanaging.

Commissioner Overstreet spoke with News 12 off camera and he says it's an internal problem with management, refusing to comment further on the issue.

However, we do know part of the problem is over money and how to spend it.

As for a new chief, Overstreet says a new one will be in place within the next 24 hours after an emergency meeting last night by all three district commissioners.

In the meantime, 3 calls have gone out since Tuesday's exodus leaving Bath and Belvedere to handle the workload.

"I hope it doesn't happen to any department. It doesn't do the department any good or the people in the area any good to have something like this to worry about." says Bath Fire Chief Sean Johnson.

Commissioner Overstreet says he's personally talked to seven firefighters who are back on the roster and he maintains Clearwater is still an active fire station. But, the county's administrator's office says 20 volunteers are needed in order to properly run the fire department.


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