Councilors Jim Rutherford and Jerry Burnett were not in attendance at Monday’s city council meeting.
There has been a flurry of promotions and restructuring in the city over the past several weeks. During Monday’s meeting, the council in a 9-1 vote approved hiring Stephen Tyler Jasper, Jr. as the Somerset Fire Department’s newest chief.
Although there have been some rumblings over the choice, considering Jasper is not a firefighter, he said on Friday that he was looking forward to working with the fire department, which currently has 24 full-time and 14 part-time employees on staff.
“I’m excited but I do understand it’s going to be a big challenge,” said Jasper, “like taking over any department would be.”
Councilor John Ricky Minton was the lone “nay” vote, who noted he would’ve liked to see a firefighter be promoted to chief. Councilor Jimmy Eastham had similar concerns, although he voted to approve Jasper as new SFD chief.
Jasper said he’s met with the firefighters, and he said he’s already “ordered his books” to start studying up on the process to become certified as a firefighter.
“I don’t expect the guys who work for me to do the job that I’m not qualified to do,” said Jasper.
Jasper said the department is currently running with two trucks while two others are out for repairs. He said they’re expecting those trucks — complete with newly-fitted pump equipment and more — to be back by September.
“That’ll definitely increase our capability,” said Jasper.
Jasper also said they’re looking into other staffing options, such as including some volunteers in the department. He hopes to be able to hire two additional full-time firefighters soon, and he said two firefighters have been promoted in the ranks.