UPDATE: Cagle Mountain firefighters pick up their gear - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Cagle Mountain firefighters pick up their gear

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UPDATE: 10:50 P.M.

SEQUATCHIE COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) -- Firefighters with the Cagle Mountain Volunteer Fire Department have picked up their gear, after service was shut down for several days.

The controversy has come to a rest, after the firefighters and the board that oversees the department came up with a plan to make sure the problem doesn't happen again.

The ousted fire chief still is out of the position, but the board promised firefighters a set of rules to define how the board and the fire department operate.

"These people up here need this," Katie Parsons says. "They need their firemen back. So, I'm hoping everything can be resolved tonight."

Katie Parsons and her family got their wish.

They were just some of the dozens that packed the Cagle Community Center Thursday night to get fire service back in the community.

The controversy started Monday night when former Cagle Mountain Volunteer Fire Chief James Hixson was let go by the board.

The board says Hixson was disrespectful, but the firefighters said he was sticking up for them.

"We need to get Mr. Hixson back in his position," Robert Cummings says. "Also, we need to get the firefighters' vote back."

"The firefighters themselves, we believe they should be loyal to the community and not necessarily to a fire chief," says Jeff Mackey.

Those were the demands of both sides before the meeting, and it seems like they met in the middle.

The board told Channel 3 late Thursday night that James Hixson is still not the chief, but they have decided to create a new board to come up with rules for how the department and the board should operate, so fire service is never disrupted again.

That board will be made up of firefighters, current board members and community members.

We're told Cagle Mountain was never without fire service throughout this whole ordeal.

Fire departments from Dunlap and Fredonia offered their help during the week.

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On Cagle Mountain in Sequatchie County, things are getting heated, which people living there say isn't good. Problems between board members, the chief and firefighters at Cagle Mountain Volunteer Fire and Rescue have brought service to a halt.

The board is meeting with firefighters and any members of the public interested in coming to the community center Thursday night, as they attempt to resolve the situation.

But until that happens, they want residents to know they're being covered by neighboring fire departments in Dunlap and Fredonia.

"I feel that there's been some hard communication between me and the board president, and I feel really bad that it's come to that," former Fire Chief
James Hixson says.

Hixson was ousted as Cagle Mountain Fire Chief in a meeting, Monday.

"To be honest it was expected. I kind of knew it was coming," Hixson says.

Board President Dan Kittle declined our request for an interview but tells us Hixson was removed because of his frequent disrespect for the board.

"I voiced my opinion and they tended to have taken that the wrong way," he says.

Hixson says he called the board out for hand picking members instead of elections. Kittle says they did that because the meeting was too chaotic for elections to take place.

"My chief, he's doing the right thing and we're going to stand by him no matter what. If he doesn't get to come back, sorry," firefighter and board member Robert Cummings says.

All 16 volunteer firefighters turned in their gear and left. After that, the board changed the locks on the firehouse.

"Trailer burns a lot faster than a house does," Cagle Mountain resident, Marilyn Rigsby says.

Residents hope they can work things out at the meeting, so they have their fire department back. Using neighboring departments adds several minutes to the response time.

"Everybody needs one and that's the closest one to us," Rigsby says.

The board president says he hopes to get the firefighters back on board and give them keys to the new locks to get back to serving the community.

He worries they won't unless Hixson is reinstated as chief.

He wouldn't comment on the possibility of that happening.

If they can't resolve it, the firefighters say they'll assist the other departments with local fires.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.

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