LOUISVILLE A former Louisville volunteer firefighter says he was kicked out for speaking to the press about issues within the department.
Norm F. Worden received a certified letter from the department on Thursday informing him that he was no longer a member. While he viewed the letter as being kicked out of the department, Chief John Sheets said the letter simply formalized that Mr. Worden had quit.
We did not kick him out, Mr. Sheets said. He said Mr. Worden returned his gear the night of the departments June meeting and said he was done.
Mr. Sheets also said the letter had nothing to do with an interview that Mr. Worden gave to Johnson Newspapers following that meeting, when Mr. Worden and other non-resident members were told they were becoming associate members of the department and would no longer have a say in how the department was run.
Mr. Worden acknowledged turning in his gear at that meeting but says that was done in haste when he was upset about losing his voice in the department.
I turned in my gear, but I didnt turn in my resignation, Mr. Worden said. Until you put in your formal resignation, youre not done. If they wanted to formalize things, they should have sent a letter asking what my intentions were, but they didnt give me an option. They kicked me out.
The letter, signed by Mr. Sheets, First Assistant Chief Merlon Rogers and Trustee Kenneth Blair, states: The officers of the Louisville Volunteer Fire Department are initiating that due to your behavior of late with derogatory and negative comments toward the Louisville Volunteer Fire Department, your services as an associate are no longer needed for this organization. We thank you for your support and hard work you have done in the past.
Mr. Worden said he looked into the matter further and learned there is no such thing as an associate member of a volunteer fire department. All members have the same rights under the law, he said, adding that he hopes to join another department.
It wasnt like I was a firefighter who didnt do anything. I was one of the top responding firefighters for a while, and Im an interior firefighter, he said. If they can afford to throw away an interior firefighter, so be it.
Mr. Worden called the letter a slap in the face.
Yeah, I did speak out, but I wanted positive change for that fire department, he said. When I got into the department, I thought it was a great organization, but then I noticed there was a downhill slide, so I spoke up. First they made me an associate member and now this.
That being said, Mr. Worden said he does think the department is finally headed in the right direction.
There is no doubt they are making some positive changes, but it took the town of Louisville threatening them for these changes to come about, he said. They wouldnt have made any changes otherwise.