Support continues for Washington Fire Chief

By WEEK Producer

July 8, 2014 Updated Jul 9, 2014 at 1:43 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- Washington is up in arms over the fate of the city's fire chief.

The Washington Fire Department Board earlier discussed not renewing the chief's contract -- now it turns out the vote wasn't legitimate.

Mike Vaughn has held the position for the last six years.

The board president called it a "difference in philosophies," but it's a decision many in Washington do not agree with.

Tuesday's meeting ended in a lot of confusion over Chief Vaughn's contract.

There are a total of five board members, but two of their terms ended in October 2013, so they are no longer considered board members.

There was a motion on the table to not renew Vaughn's contract but Brian Barron walked out before that could be voted on.

Because a majority of the members, in this case all three current members, are needed before a vote can happen, the meeting ended with no decision.

Multiple firefighters voiced that they would not continue to work for the Washington Fire Department if the chief's contract was not renewed.

"When the chief walks out the door on July 31, my gear will be on his desk and I will be with him," said Assistant Fire Chief Jason Cook.

"If you have any doubts you can look at the events on November 17 [2013]. Chief Vaughn almost lost his life trying to warn others about the tornado that was ravishing our town," said one Washington resident. "I was in my mom's basement listening to the tornado destroy her house above us. How many of you people would risk your own life to save the lives of others in this town?"

Chief Vaughn's contract will automatically renew on August 1, for three years, if no official board decision is made.

But they could still have a special meeting before then.

Barron said he looked forward to discussing the issue with the other board members. But he feels it is in the best interest of the fire department members and the community to renew Chief Vaughn's contract.