Tontitown City Fire Department Will Not Officially Disband Until Referendum Vote

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TONTITOWN (KFSM)- The Tontitown City Fire Department cannot be disbanded until voters cast their ballot in a special election, according to a member of the City Council.

The Tontitown Area Volunteer Fire Department is supposed to take over all fire protection services in Tontitown starting April 1 at 12:01 a.m. after the City Council passed two ordinances on March 3 that eliminated the city fire department and established a contract with the volunteer fire department.

However, Alderman Joe Edgemon said that transfer of services can’t happen because of an emergency clause that he included in his referendum on the City Council decision to disband the city fire department.

Despite that, Edgemon said Tontitown Mayor Paul Colvin sent each member of the city fire department a letter thanking them for their service.

The letter reads: “As you are already aware, the Tontitown Area Fire Department will be taking over the responsibilities of fire protection for our city beginning early tomorrow morning, April 1, 2015 at 12:01 a.m. We very much appreciate your past service to our city and wish you well.”

To see the letter, click here.

Edgemon said the firefighters he spoke with feel like they’re in employment limbo because of the ordinances passed by the City Council and the emergency clause in Edgemon’s referendum. According to Edgemon, the Tontitown police chief now has the keys to the fire station and will unlock it Wednesday morning, but he said he’s unsure what duties, if any, the city firefighters will have.

Edgemon needed to collect 150 signatures on his referendum petition that would let voters decide whether they want to repeal the ordinance that disbanded the city fire department. He said he reached that goal well before the April 9 due date and the signatures have been certified by the city police and planning clerks. Now, the signatures have to be approved by the city recorder, then they’ll go to the Washington County clerk and the Election Commission to make sure the referendum gets on the ballot for a special election on June 9.

The Tontitown recorder has 10 days from March 26 to certify the petition signatures.

Edgemon said the city fire department has about $800,000-worth of equipment and even if the department is disbanded, that equipment will belong to the city.