CLOVER, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - After much debate and threats from firefighters to leave the Clover Fire Department unstaffed, the current fire chief will remain in his position rather than an outside candidate being hired, as the city had planned.
Back in February, the Clover Town Council decided to make a position available for a new paid fire chief. Up to that point, the station worked on a volunteer basis.
When the new paid position became available, many thought the volunteer fire chief of 16 years-- Charlie Love-- would get the job, but he didn’t. Instead, the city hired Billy Thompson.
Love says he was told the job was his, so he was surprised when the town administrator informed him Thompson got the job instead.
The fire department threatened to walk after Love was passed up for the position, which is when the controversy grew.
On Monday, March 11 concerned neighbors and firefighters gathered at a meeting armed with signs and support for Love.
After a two and a half hour closed session, Clover Town Council members emerged with a plan to rescind the offer to the outside candidate. In lieu of a paid fire chief position, the town voted to open a paid firefighter role instead, creating a total of two paid firefighter’s jobs. The rest of the department remains volunteer.
The motion passed quickly, cementing Love's position. Following Monday night's decision, the chief and firefighters have turned down our request for an interview. The same goes for Thompson, who was set to start this month.
A few council members expressed concerns with the current situation, stating there are problems that need to be addressed, but wouldn’t elaborate outside their closed session.
Only two members of town council replied to our multiple requests for an interview, but were also turned down. Most of them sent no reply at all.