After hearing an appeal from former Banks County Fire Department training officer Richard Crowder, the Banks County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday night to uphold his termination, at the recommendation of county attorney Randall Frost.
The board met behind closed doors for over an hour before voting 3-2 to terminate Crowder’s employment. Jimmy Hooper, David Duckett and Danny Maxwell voted to deny the termination appeal, while Charles Turk and Sammy Reece voted to accept Crowder’s appeal.
Crowder was terminated after admittedly signing off on paper work that allowed fire department trainees to take the MOD 1 certification test, which required 95 hours of course credit and CPR training. As training officer, one of Crowder’s duties was to make sure required certification was completed.
Crowder ‘s attorney Joey Homan argued that Crowder was not responsible for scheduling courses, and because certification forms were due to the Georgia Fire Dept. Board of Standards and Regulations by the end of the year (2012), Crowder would have had time to notify them if he found out that one of his trainees missed a class for any reason.
Homan pointed out that a very similar situation occurred the previous year as well, because of prescheduling the courses.
“He did sign the form, but he was also aware that if there was any issue, he could withdraw a name,” said Homan. “He was trying to make sure that firefighters were certified and Banks County remained in compliance with the Georgia Firefighters Standards and Training Council.”
Several board members raised questions about the certification of firefighter trainee, Cody Jones.
Commissioner Charles Turk pointed out that Jones had only signed off on 39.5 hours, 55.5 hours short of the total 95 required hours.
Crowder suggested that Jones did not sign the sign-in sheet in all of the classes he had taken. Crowder claimed that Jones attended at least 80 percent of training classes.
“I don’t know if he signed the drill sheet, I do know the total number of hours of commitment to training that young man did went way beyond what the other classmates did,” he said. “That told me as a training officer that he had the desire to do this, and that’s why I signed off.”
Crowder also claimed that he showed the sheet to the fire chief, and that he had no issues with it at the time.
“If he didn’t sign it, he wasn’t there,” said Turk. “That’s all I can go by.”
Crowder closed by requesting that the board let him resign rather than being terminated.
“The relationship between me and the fire chief was contentious at best,” added Crowder. “Gentlemen, all I ask is a chance to resign. Did I do right, no. I played the time gamble. I’m not saying the situation was perfect, but I will say that these firefighters that are coming up are some of the best we’ve had.”