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Firefighters suspended after Santa rides on back of truck

Starr firefighters say Anderson County doesn't own truck (Jan. 10, 2014/ FOX Carolina) Starr firefighters say Anderson County doesn't own truck (Jan. 10, 2014/ FOX Carolina)
STARR, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Before a fire truck at the Starr Fire Department leaves the station, firefighters say they make sure they have what they need. However, Assistant Chief Gregg Campbell said he's trying to put out a fire of his own. He said it's one that has the community heated.

"Very upset, it should've never came to this," Campbell said.

He said the controversy started over a Christmas celebration that involved a parade, Santa Claus and a red truck.

"We bought this truck. The title is still in the owner we bought the truck from," Campbell said.

The Starr department is a volunteer fire department.

"Sometimes we're in good shape, sometimes we're real short-handed," he said.

Campbell said they held fundraisers and bought the truck with that money back in November.

"Anderson County did not have any insurance on this truck," he said.

Campbell said the truck will eventually be used as a brush truck to help fight grass fires.

According to a suspension notice, the Anderson County Fire Chief suspended the fire chief for allowing Santa Claus to ride on the back of a stationed owned vehicle during the parade.

"It does not have Starr Fire Department on it. It does not have Anderson County Fire Department written on it anywhere," Campbell said.

According to the Anderson County Fire Rules and Regulations, it's a violation to let anyone ride on the back of a county-owned vehicle. So, the county chief suspended the chief, a captain and a firefighter for 90 days.

"This does not warrant 90 days," Campbell said.

On Friday, many who live in the community along with other firefighters from the Starr Department as well as other firefighters gathered at the station to show support and talk about their concerns over the suspensions.

 Tessa Hilley said those volunteer firefighters who were suspended should be re-instated.

"I think they have been wrongfully done," Hilley said.

Stephen Sorensen, an Anderson County Fire Commissioner who represents the Starr district, released this statement:

"I care about the firefighters and the Starr community. Right now, I'm looking into the situation to figure out what happened," Sorensen said.

He said he doesn't want those who live in the Starr community to panic because there are firefighters from the department who will be able to respond to emergency situations, as well as other firefighters from surrounding departments.

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