Acting Fire Chief Named

The Red River Fire Department Board met on Monday.  They named an Acting Chief, adjusted pay scales for firefighters and continued the job of getting the department’s finances in order.

Jeremy Neal was named Temporary Chief.  Neal is a captain and he is adding the chief’s duties to his regular work schedule.  The board deferred action on additional compensation for Neal pending an assessment of the work load brought on by the additional duties.

The board appointed a committee of Bob Harris, Jamary Jones and Dan Cason to develop a job description for Fire Chief and propose a salary for a part-time (30 hour per week) chief.  This is in preparation for advertising for applications and selecting a permanent chief for the fire department.

In a move that involves most of the firefighting staff, the Fire Board expanded the most recent salary scale to apply to the entire firehouse staff effective immediately.  During discussion of the issue it was said that the salary scale had been developed by the former Fire Board, however it was made to apply only to new hires.  President Shawn Beard said, “At present we only have three on the current pay scale.  We have to adopt it to all of our firefighters.”  The change Monday is necessary to lower the department’s labor cost for future months.

The savings to be realized was not discussed during the meeting.  Afterward The Journal asked Kylie Shaw, board bookkeeper, what the savings would be for the rest of this year compared to keeping the old salary scale in place.  Shaw said the estimated saving is $170,365 for 2021.  District Attorney Julie Jones reminded the board that the new pay scale is still higher than pay scales received from Caddo and Natchitoches parishes.

During the meeting, Board Secretary Bill Jones had said, “If this pay scale is adopted (apply to all employees) we should be able to make it through the year and have $277,000 left (for other expenses).”  He added “We still have to consider what we will owe for bookkeeping and a board secretary.  Make sure we have enough to cover this.”

Other items that will require money include servicing all of the fire trucks and other equipment.  Temporary Chief Neal was authorized to spend up to $2,500 on repairs to the fire suppression systems and get them ready for the annual inspection.  They were damaged during the snow and ice storm.

And the board is still trying to get an exact figure of what the regular operating expenses will be on a continuing basis.  There was a discussion of their insurance policy and it was said that the fire department is still insuring the former fire station downtown and an out building at that location.  Those buildings were sold to the Sheriff in 2019.