Pelham firefighters speak out against city lawsuit

Published 10:06 pm Monday, June 21, 2010

A group of Pelham firefighters spoke out against a lawsuit filed against the city by five current and former firefighters during the June 21 City Council meeting.

Firefighter Randy Ragland brought a letter, signed by 30 fellow firefighters, to the meeting in support of the city.

Ragland said when he and many other firefighters heard of the lawsuit, filed by current firefighters Kenneth Camp, Todd McCarver, Patrick Smith and Stephen Kiel and retired firefighter Randal Bearden, they were upset.

In a two-count complaint, the five firefighters are seeking unpaid wages, overtime wages and liquidated damages, plus a permanent injunction to prohibit the city from further violating the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the civil service law, which governs how the city’s employees are compensated.

Ragland said the 30 firefighters felt the lawsuit was being portrayed as all Pelham firefighters due to the five firefighters seeking class-action status.

“It’s unnecessary and hurtful to the department,” Ragland said. “It’s not everybody; it’s a minute number of guys.”

Ragland said the city and the fire department has been good to his family, and he is extremely happy with the way he has been treated.

“Why do people want to work here? Why do they leave other places to come here?” Ragland said. “It’s because of the way the city treats its employees.”

Capt. Don Green said no matter what happens with the lawsuit, even if it is granted class-action status, he will be no part of it.

“I will not cash a check,” Green said. “It’s not going to happen.”

Council member Bill Meadows said he just hopes the issue doesn’t create a divide in the department.

“I hope we don’t see two sides develop in the fire department because you’re a good team,” Meadows said. “I hope we can stay a team within the fire department.”

Ragland said although he disagrees with the five men filing the lawsuit, it will not stand in the way of the department performing its service.

“No matter what happens, we’re still going to do our jobs,” Ragland said. “The department is too strong for that.”