No resolution reached for Charlotte firefighters at special City Council meeting

No resolution reached for Charlotte firefighters at special City Council meeting
Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 10:47 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 28, 2022 at 11:13 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WILX) - It’s been a week since the entire volunteer firefighting force resigned at a Charlotte City Council meeting.

The fire chief announced his resignation the next day.

The council held a special meeting Monday night to work it out and attempt to get the 23 volunteers back to work. While council members and the former volunteer firefighters were planning on having a healthy discussion to reach a conclusion, the city attorney and city manager did not have the same expectation.

About 100 people showed up, but in the end, the meeting left residents wondering how much longer Charlotte will be without a fully-staffed fire department.

The city attorney said at the beginning of the meeting that there legally couldn’t be any dialogue between city officials and the fire fighters. Additionally, the city attorney said the city manager is the only person with the power to decide what to do moving forward.

“No, I’m not ready to make a decision tonight,” said city manager Erin LaPere.

The statement resulted in dozens of outbursts from citizens concerned for the wellbeing of their city.

“When we got to the end and there was no resolution, I was immediately was right back to where we were when this happened at the last meeting,” said Jeff Christensen.

Christensen has lived in Charlotte for four years. He said he had high hopes the issues between the fire fighters and city officials would be resolved, if nothing else, for the safety of the community.

“Every second counts,” Christensen said. “When you’ve got to call someone 10 minutes away, that 10 minutes could sacrifice lives. It could sacrifice someone’s entire home.”

A letter written by Jessica Droscha -- the widow of Jeremy Droscha, a man killed in a house fire in March -- was delivered by a family friend at the meeting.

“As I drove the frantic eight minute drive home all over the county, men were getting the same call. The only difference is these men weren’t racing toward their own home with the knowledge that their spouse and their 4-year-old daughter were in a burning house,” the letter read. “They were putting on their gear and putting their lives at risk to help a stranger.”

While the city manager said she isn’t ready to make any decisions right away, she said she would have answers in the near future.

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